Buffalo Soldiers Teach African American History

Gulfport residents watched part of civil war history come to life this weekend. Keepers of the Pledge sponsored a parade to honor an all African American legion called the Louisiana Native Guard. The guard, which fought in South Mississippi, was also known as the Buffalo Soldiers.

Every year Sidney Barnes and his friends sit at this corner on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Gulfport to watch the Buffalo Soldiers parade pass by.

Barnes said, "I know a lot about Black history but I'm beginning to see it coming out more in the open than it was when I was coming up."

This was Charlean Lampley's first time watching the parade. Curiosity brought her out.

"I decided to come out because I didn't realize that the Black Buffalo soldiers had such a rich history here," said Lampley. " I just wanted to be a part of it."

Reenactors hope to get people asking questions and wanting to know more about African American history and the Buffalo Soldiers. They say it's often overlooked that in 1863, African American Union troops fought the Confederacy in the Battle of Pascagoula and won.

"We think that the civil rights movement only started in the Sixties but these men were 100 years before their time fighting for our freedom,"Civil War reenactor Norman Fisher said. "They defeated the Confederate Army so that we could be free."

Not all the Buffalo Soldiers were men. Some women rode in the parade to honor Cathy William who fought for two years posing as a man before she was discovered and discharged.

Civil War reenactor Paulette Norton said she wanted "to let young kids, especially the young females, know that they can reach their goals that they can do things to help better themselves and their community."

After the parade hundreds of people continued the celebration of the Buffalo Soldiers in Jones Park. There some people enjoyed a meal that was the standard diet of Buffalo Soldier which included pinto beans, chicken feet and fish heads.