Buffalo Soldiers Exhibit Press
By Alberto Gilman
Residents and visitors of the City of Newburgh will now have the opportunity to discover, learn and visit the new Buffalo Soldiers Exhibit at Newburgh, which officially opened on Saturday, June 18. This exhibit was created through the collaboration and partnership of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club [BSMC], the Motorcycle Channel and Motorcyclepedia Museum of Newburgh.
The museum exhibit, located at 109 Liberty Street, features memorabilia and photographs of the motorcycle club and the history of the Buffalo Soldiers, an all African-American military unit created following the Civil War. One display in the exhibit also featured the creation and journey of an official Buffalo Soldiers monument and statue that now stands on the grounds of West Point. The Buffalo Soldiers were said to have been stationed at West Point and served as horse instructors for the cadets.
According to the program, The Buffalo Soldiers military unit was created when the United States Congress passed national legislation in the year 1866 that allowed for African-Americans to enlist in the military during the country’s peacetime. This was the period following the Civil War.
The 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiment, composed of all African-American soldiers, was formed and served during the western expansion of the United States. This military unit battled Native Americans, who gave them the nickname Buffalo Soldiers, and protected American settlers.
Later on, the 24th and 25th infantries, which were a combination of four Black infantry regiments, were also formed. These two infantry units, composed of all African-American soldiers, also fought alongside the Buffalo Soldiers. According to the club’s history page, the Buffalo Soldiers units have also fought in conflicts that included The Spanish American War, The Philippine Insurrection, The Mexican Expedition, World War I, World War II, and the Korean Police Action.
In attendance for the grand opening were members of the BSMC West Point chapter which was founded and established in 2013 and is currently led by BSMC West Point President Melvin ‘Gato’ Smith. Today, according to the West Point president’s page, BSMC’s members are former and active military personnel, law enforcement members, educators, civil servants and other like-minded individuals of the community. The West Point club is recognized as a member of the National Association of Buffalo Soldiers and Troopers Motorcycle Club. BSMC is dedicated to the promotion and participation of the community through charity and service work. More information can be found at bsmcwestpointny.org.
The welcome address for the ceremony was delivered by Damon Finch, founder of Damon Finch Power Sessions, who served as Master of Ceremonies. Larry White, chaplain of the Hudson Valley Nubian Gun Club, led the gathered group in a brief moment of prayer and Greg Anderson, founder of We The People America, led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. Guests of the grand opening included Mayor Torrance Harvey, Orange County Historian Johanna Porr-Yaun and Ray Harvey, President of the Newburgh-Highland Falls NAACP branch and other West Point club members.
Lionel Durant, founder of Modern Black Inventors, shared words of gratitude for those who came out to celebrate this special occasion and reflected on the importance of this opening on the weekend of Juneteenth. A fellow veteran himself, Durant is grateful for the impact and importance of these soldiers to this country. Rodney’ Z-Man’ Thorton, creator and curator of the Buffalo Soldiers Exhibit, was also recognized and will be the recipient of the Sgt. Sanders Matthews Award in recognition of his work to keep the memory of the Buffalo Soldiers alive. He will be honored officially this September at Eisenhower Hall in West Point. Mayor Harvey also shared words of gratitude for the work done to make this exhibit possible and accessible for city residents and visitors and handed out certificates of appreciation on behalf of him and the city to Smith and the BSMC West Point Vice President Darryl ‘Sully’ Sullivan.
For Tim ‘Big Tru’ Middlebrooks of BSMC West Point, he will be coming up on three years as a member of the chapter. For him, Middlebrooks shared words of gratitude and joy to see this exhibit on display. “It’s awesome. It’s a little overwhelming. It warms my heart to see that, you know, it is being recognized,” said Middlebrooks. “I’m just very proud of this organization. I love what we represent and I want to continue to make this organization grow.”
Frank ‘Breezin’ Austin, also of BSMC West Point and of Newburgh, with a smile on his face, shared that he was a part of the group that accompanied the Buffalo Soldiers statue to its final destination at West Point and was happy to see the museum display here for the community. For the public, he wants them to know that BSMC is here to take care of the community and now people will be able to learn about the history of this historic group. “Please, if you’re in Newburgh, stop by. You can get history of the 9th and 10th Cavalry. You can also get history of African-Americans that fought in the Civil War,” said Austin. “It is nothing but history here and it’s something that you should partake of if you live in Newburgh.”
The exhibit is located again at 109 Liberty Street in the City of Newburgh and donations for the exhibit can be sent by visiting buffalosoldiersexhibit.com.