The year after the end of the Civil War, the U.S. Congress authorized the creation of six segregated African American army regiments. They were placed in the largely unsettled Rocky Mountain West, far from the southern states where many of them had been enslaved. More than 150 people attended a ceremony Thursday to commemorate this piece of Western history.
The ceremony marked the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Buffalo Soldier Army units in 1866.
The Buffalo Soldiers Community Memorial committee has worked with city and state governments over the last several years to honor the Buffalo Soldiers, who they say have been largely overlooked in history curriculums.
June Waller is a member of the committee. She's 80 years old, and describes herself as a life-long activist. She moved to Colorado Springs from Harlem fifty years ago.
"I'm ecstatic," she said. "I'm ecstatic at any kind of recognition of what people of color did. Be they brown color yellow color I'm always happy that our children—that we don't lose that. Because it's so easy to lose history because not too much is put in books."
Through the committee's efforts, a new stone monument structure dedicated to the soldiers was erected in Memorial Park, and a stretch of Highway 24 between Colorado Springs and Manitou has been named the "Buffalo Soldier Memorial Highway."
Among the speakers at the ceremony were Mayor John Suthers, City Council president Merv Bennet, and state representative Terri Carver.