BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — As Black History Month continues, 23ABC wanted to highlight more of the African American heritage right here in Kern County, specifically, the Buffalo Soldiers.
The Buffalo Soldiers were first formed in 1866 and included six black units created by the U.S. Army, after the Civil War, and they were charged to protect frontier settlers, and now more than a century later, their legacy continues.
The buffalo soldiers were also awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their bravery and courage under fire, for the protection of the Western Frontier.
According to the current Lt. General of the Buffalo Soldiers of Bakersfield, Dee Slade, besides the soldiers' impressive battle record, they performed the everyday task of protecting settlers, travelers, and workers alike.
Now more than 100 years later the Bakersfield chapter continues to serve the community with educational programs, outreach and just recently honored by the City of Wasco for their continued service. The Buffalo Soilders add, they are here to ensure their legacy never dies.
"It's important that you know the begin the current and future of the African American culture," said Dee Slade/ Lt. General for buffalo Soldiers 9th Cavalry Bakersfield.
The buffalo soldiers were formed more than 150 years ago and according to the current general of the buffalo soldiers of Bakersfield, Dee Slade she says after the civil war their service didn’t stop there.
"Buffalo soldiers are former slaves, and slaves did fight in the civil war the revolution and after the war, there was no place for them to go or work — so they were commissioned by Congress to be a part of the reconstruction era."
Let’s fast forward to 1990 — when the African American network of Kern County was formed and then the buffalo soldiers programming was created in 1994.
Current buffalo soldiers of Kern County remain on duty with a watchful eye over residents.
"We are not play officers; the group is composed of retired military officers that have served their country.. navy, airforce, army marines," said Slade.
You might have seen the current buffalo soldiers out- serving in their full uniforms educating the community and offering mentoring programs to the youth whose purpose is to empower and enhance African American culture.
"In Jan. to February of 2020 we were able to do our mentoring and educational program and we completed our buffalo soldier program to our mentoring students by showcasing and mentoring our history to 10,400 students and spread the education," added Slade.
Just recently the buffalo soles program was awarded $15,000 by the William and Florence wheeler foundation sponsored the 2020 — and due to the COVID-19 pandemic they've had to adapt virtually to continue their mission — but it hasn’t stopped them.
"We stepped out of the box when we started doing personal delivery of food. we do that every week to over 400-500 families and children. and childcare centers and seniors to make sure people of color are getting some substance.