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Texas Buffalo Soldiers to Host Events Celebrating African American History Month
AUSTIN — In honor of African American History month, the Texas Buffalo Soldiers will be presenting special events in College Station on Feb. 17 and Austin on Feb. 20 that celebrate the rich cultural history of African Americans in Texas.
During the Indian Wars of the late 1800s, African Americans composed about 20 percent of the U.S. Calvary. The black soldiers of the 9th & 10th Cavalry and the 24th & 25th Infantry Regiments were nicknamed "Buffalo Soldiers" by the Native Americans because their bravery and strength during battle was reflective of the buffalo’s spirit. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Texas Buffalo Soldier program is dedicated to educating youth not only about the Buffalo Soldiers, but also about the vaqueros, negro cowboys, frontier women, Native Americans and other cultural groups in Texas during the late 1800s.
Students of all ages across the state will get a glimpse of what life was like for a buffalo soldier with the annual "Life of a Buffalo Soldier" program, which will be held at the George Bush Presidential Library on the Texas A&M campus on Feb. 17.
"During this program we will interpret the history of the 9th Cavalry on the Texas frontier as well as the different cultures they came across and interacted with during their time in Texas," said Luis Padilla, program director. "It will include interpretive story telling from a Seminole scout and Cathay Williams, the first female Buffalo Soldier."
This year the Texas Buffalo Soldiers will be introducing a new element to the program, by partnering up with the Media Diversity Council and streaming the event live on the web. They will also be launching a new distance learning program in collaboration with the Texas Education Telecommunications Network. Immediately following the program, TETN will broadcast to a select number of schools for a special live interactive Q&A session.
"With these new processes, we are now able to reach an even larger audience through the window of technology," said Padilla.
In a joint venture between TPWD and the Texas Historical Commission, on Feb. 20 the Buffalo Soldiers will be posting the Colors during the opening ceremonies at Victory Grill, in east Austin. The THC will be designating the Victory Grill as a historical landmark for African American history.
Austin’s oldest standing blues club, the Victory Grill was opened in 1945 by Johnny Holmes as an ice house and venue for local blues musicians. It later expanded to a bar and grill that provided food and entertainment for African American soldiers returning from war, as segregation prohibited them from going into most places in town. Victory Grill has hosted a number of local and famous acts, including B.B. King, Louis Armstrong and Ike and Tina Turner.
The Texas Buffalo Soldiers will also be holding Black History Month Celebrations on Austin Community College campuses on Feb. 18, and will be holding programs at Austin High School in Austin on Feb. 26. For a complete listing of events throughout 2010, visit the Buffalo Soldiers web pages on the TPWD Web site.
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