Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts: Local, USA Special
By Dru Holley
PREMIERING MONDAY, JUNE 12 on PBS and MONDAY, JUNE 19 on WORLD
Established by Congress in 1868, the 14th Amendment promised citizenship in exchange for military enlistment, prompting many African American men to do so. But they were denied this right due to Jim Crow laws established during the Reconstruction Era. In spite of this, the men helped lead the expansion of the U.S. westward; they built and guarded the Pacific Railroad, and served as park rangers in places like Yosemite before the government's establishment of the National Park Service.
The soldiers fought bravely in the Indian Wars, the Philippine-American War, the Mexican Punitive Expedition, and World Wars I & II. Buffalo Soldiers, in particular, participated in the subjugation of Native peoples as the U.S. appropriated tribal land, the persecution of striking silver miners in Idaho, and went up against Filipinos fighting for independence during the Spanish-American War, resulting in a complicated legacy.
By combining a multitude of diverse perspectives, the film examines the profound and often-contradictory roles played in American history by the Buffalo Soldiers, and how they fought on two sets of front lines: military conflicts abroad and civil rights struggles at home.
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