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Community leaders, members come together for annual Buffalo Soldier celebration

The Buffalo Soldier Heritage Day included a presentation by retired curator Henry Crawford.
Credit: Marlen Trevino

The Fort Concho National Historic Landmark held its annual Buffalo Soldier Heritage Day Sunday.

Community leaders joined members of the community as Henry Crawford gave a presentation on the history of the Buffalo Soldiers. 

According to Robert Bluthardt, Fort Concho National Historic Landmark site manager, the actual date is arbitrary, but the celebration is held on the last Sunday of the month.

"February traditionally has been African American Month and since Black Buffalo Soldiers were 50% of Fort Concho's troops in its historic time, it seemed like the right time and right month to do it," Bluthardt, said.

The Buffalo Soldiers have a lot of history at Fort Concho, Sherley Spears, San Angelo NAACP Unit 6219 president and Vice chair of Fort Concho, said.

"We are always trying to make sure that we bring out the history and share with the community so that they realize that these soldiers actually lived and worked here," Spears said.  "It’s not something we’ve just made up, it’s not a myth."

Before COVID-19, the event was held in the commissary and allowed for a larger number of people to attend. Sunday's event was held at the Fort Concho Stables to allow for social distancing.

Henry Crawford, a Fort Concho volunteer and retired museum curator gave the presentation and also brought some of his personal items for attendees to see. 

"One of the big takeaways is that first and foremost they were professional soldiers and also their jobs were basically the same as white soldiers, Crawford said. "In fact, they had the same food, same uniform, same salaries, same everything, there was no difference between them except they were Black Soldiers."

Among the items, Crawford brought to the presentation there were weapons, uniforms and some of his reference library.

"I will go through the PowerPoint slides and talk about the context of what’s going on historically then talk about some of the actual items that soldiers would have used," Crawford said.

Members of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club from San Antonio made the trip to San Angelo Saturday.  The club is about conserving the history of the Buffalo Soldiers, according to Alamo, Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club president.

"Any time there is any kind displays of things to talk about the history of the Buffalo Soldiers we always want to take part of it," Alamo said. "Periodically we come out to Fort Concho because they do have a historic footprint here that talks about the Buffalo Soldiers."

This year, the NAACP is celebrating 75 years and has several things planned, including voter registration drives, according to Spears. 

Fort Concho's next event will be held from approximately 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 6 at the Officers' Quarters 6. The event will feature the female side of the Army post. 

"We lost a number of events last year," Bluthardt, said. "We are going to try to do better this year, simply because the restrictions aren’t as tight."

Bluthardt said he hopesFort Concho can have its SPeaker Series and Regional Cavalry Competition in April.