Black History Month Article by
Gloria Smith, Historian
|Unidentified soldier, 25th Infantry
African American Soldiers
of Tucson's early African American settlers came to the Southwest as members of the 24th and 25th U.S. Infantry Regiments
and 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments. All of these units were stationed at Ft. Huachuca and other southwest Arizona forts at
some time. These Black regiments fought against Native American warriors in the Indian Campaigns and went with General John
Pershing when he rode into Mexico to fight Pancho Villa.
The Native Americans gave the nickname "Buffalo soldiers"
to these soldiers. They did this because they respected the fighting ability of the Black troops. In addition to their other
soldiering duties, some of these soldiers acted as scouts and others as bilingual interpreters. The first Black graduate of
West Point, Lt. Henry O. Flipper, served at Ft. Huachuca. Some of Tucson's African American community today are the descendants
of these soldiers.
World War II brought a fresh influx of African American soldiers to Tucson. Both Davis-Monthan
Air Base and Ft. Huachuca played a role in training troops for combat duty. A USO for Black soldiers was established across
from Estevan Park. Kathryn Maxwell, the wife of Dunbar School principal Morgan Maxwell, would meet the trains as an American
Red Cross volunteer. She would offer coffee and doughnuts to African American soldiers. Her daughter, Kathryn Dixon explained,
"In some areas the Red Cross did not serve black soldiers. My mother, in order to make sure that did not happen here, would
meet the train." [Sanchez]
Soldiers were separated by race through World War II. At Davis-Monthan, the nickname given
to the barracks housing Black soldiers was "Rattlesnake Gulch." After the end of the war, President Harry S. Truman issued
an executive order in July 1948 ending segregation in the armed forces.
Despite the order of President Truman, Davis-Monthan
remained segregated after World War II. When Master Sergeant Fred Archer was stationed at Davis-Monthan in August of 1949,
he was told, "Sarge, you're gonna have trouble here!" Master Sergeant Archer had received his rank in 1943 and outranked most
of the other Master Sergeants at the base. However, all African Americans were assigned to a single Squadron, whose duties
included driving the garbage trucks. This was not an appropriate assignment for one of the post's top Master Sergeants! By
the end of 1949, Squadron F was deactivated and Archer was assigned duties appropriate to his rank and abilities. [Sanchez]
|Chaplain George W. Proleau, ca 1920
Through the years African American soldiers have demonstrated skill and courage in serving their country, Arizona Territory,
and the State of Arizona. Many of these men experienced intolerance and racial discrimination during their service, yet they
were still willing to place their lives in danger in times of trouble. Tucson is fortunate that so many of these men and their
families and descendants have chosen to make their home in southwestern Arizona.
Hi, I meant to contribute
something like this to your webpage, written just for the Western Buffalo Soldiers. This comes from my work done for the UA
Library. Gloria Smith
Click here for more of "In the Steps of Esteban"
|Black Ladies that built the B-29's
|IAM District 751 is looking for any information about these Boeing workers.
Front row, left to right, Katie Jeffries, Althea Skelton, Ella Mae (last name unknow and Mary Johnson. Back row,
left to right, Louise Williams, France (last name unknown), Velma Glass Johnson and Florence Thomas
Searching For a Part of History
During World War II thousands of women found jobs in American factories and shipyards. At Boeing, their efforts helped
boost production from 60 planes per month in 1942 to an astounding 362 planes per month by March 1944. This photo of eight
African-american "Rosie the Riveters" surfaced when workers tore down a building on Boeing property. The women are standing
in front of a Boeing B-29 at the Renton plant near Seattle, Wa. IAM District 751 is trying to find these women or members
of their families as part of a Labor History Project. Contact Ron McGaha, District 751 administrative assistant at 206-764-0304
if you have any information.
THE WEST 1865 TO 1897
Col. Charles Young 1
Charles Young 2
Colonel Allen Allensworth
Henry Flipper, Land Claim
Cathay Williams Female Buffalo Soldier
Battle of Naco
Benjamin O. Davis, Sr 1
Benjamin O. Davis, Sr 2
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.1
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.2
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.3