How group of men in Detroit honors Buffalo Soldiers, passes knowledge to kids

‘It was a badge of honor for bravery’

A group in Detroit is working to preserve and honor the history of the Buffalo Soldiers.
A group in Detroit is working to preserve and honor the history of the Buffalo Soldiers.

DETROIT – This week for Your Neighborhood, a non profit with a Black History Month lesson.

We are in Detroit to learn more about the Buffalo Soldiers. Tucked away just off Joy Road on Detroit’s west side you can’t miss the bright red barn. Inside horses and their stables on a piece of land home to the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Association.

“This is an organization that was created locally about 15 years ago,” said James Mills with the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Association. “A bunch of guys, Black guys, all got together and first learned about the history of the Buffalo Soldiers and we just moved on from there and decided to form an organization.”

The term Buffalo Soldier is a nickname given to black soldiers dating back to the mid 1800s. The nickname was given for several reasons.

“Some of it has to do with during the winter months they wore big buffalo coats, the contents of their hair, the color of their skin. But it was a badge of honor for bravery,” Mills explained.

Bravery for fighting in the Indian, Johnson County and Spanish Wars to name a few. For Mills, the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Association is a way to keep African American involvement in past wars alive. They did not receive as much recognition for their service through medals and in history books like their white counterparts.

“For whatever reason there’s information that’s deleted about the Buffalo Soldiers and deleted about the contributions of African Americans in this country which African Americans in this country have been in every war that the United States has been in,” Mills said.

Here it’s more than just beautiful horses. It’s a history lesson honoring those Buffalo Soldiers and giving them their proper recognition. Kids, families and schools can come here to learn and ride the animals. Donations are appreciated.

“There was no representation about us in our history books,” said Mills. “This allows us to educate our kids into what we were in the past and what we are now.”

The Buffalo Soldiers were integrated in the 1950s. The oldest living soldier died in 2005. Their contributions forever celebrate by James Mills and everyone who passes through here.

“I’m 80 years old,” Mills added. “I’ve seen it all, you know? To have an opportunity to bond with these kids and give them a little bit of the knowledge I have obtained over the years is rewarding to me.”

If you’d like more information on the Buffalo Soldier’s Heritage Association or to schedule a visit, please visit: buffalosoldiersdetroit.org.

Note: Donations are much needed for the maintenance of the building and grounds. Suggested donation is $5 for a pony ride, $8 per person (groups are scheduled) for a brief history lesson given a by soldier, tour of grounds, barn, demonstration of grooming and tack and pony ride is included.



About the Author:

Evrod Cassimy is the morning anchor for Local 4 News Today. He joined WDIV in August of 2013. He is an award winning journalist and a six-time Emmy Award nominee. Evrod was born in Michigan but grew up in the Chicagoland area.