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Opinion

Black veteran coalition joins forces with Buffalo Soldiers
 
Published Tuesday, July 11, 2017
by Charles Blatcher III, Columnist

On June 30, 2017, I had the opportunity to visit the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum in Houston. I was invited by the founder and president, Captain Paul Matthews, to meet and discuss our possible involvement with their traveling museum project. The visit was an opportunity to view an outstanding collection and presentation on black military history.

Brother Matthews and staff are to be commended for the outstanding contribution they are making in the preservation and presentation on the subject of black military history. We are pleased to welcome the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum as a new member of the coalition.

The museum has come abroad with a pledge of $5,000 to further our efforts to bring the collection of black military history photographs to America from the Imperial War Museum in London. Some of the collection has never been shown in the United States. The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum has offered its venue for the premier exhibition. We have accepted the invitation. The presentation will be a natural fit in the institution’s display.

Years ago, we cataloged the photographic content of the Imperial War Museum’s holdings on black military history. The research was done in anticipation of one day bringing the images home to America for display. We compiled an inventory manuscript containing copies of the photographs, legends and file numbers for order purposes. The inventory listing is of tremendous benefit in selecting graphic to embellish the institution’s existing gallery presentation.

The pledge from the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is significant. However, it is not enough to acquire the complete file. The files exceed 175 photographs and legends.  The quality and size of the enlarged photographs needed are $80 each. The cost does not include mounting, framing, shipping and printing the photograph legends. We need a minimum of $75,000 to mount a first-class presentation.

We had originally estimated the augmentation of the exhibit would cost $250,000. The estimate included acquiring uniforms, mannequins and other types of artifacts for the display. Our new partnership with the Buffalo Soldiers Museum provides the supporting artifacts at less the cost. The facility has uniforms and artifacts of the era already existing in their gallery presentation.  

We need 1,400 contributors in the amount of $50 each, added to the $5,000 pledged to bring the images home. The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum will be the repository for the collection. Some of the images will be on display in the museum with others incorporated into the museum’s traveling exhibit now being planned. Arrangements are underway to transfer the Colonel Charles Young statue currently in Maysville, Kentucky, to the Houston facility.

We are asking our Black Veteran Coalition partners, other civic organizations and the general public to make a contribution toward the project. All contributors will be acknowledged in a donor’s log that will accompany the exhibition.  

Please see our Go Fund Me page:  https://www.gofundme.com/help-us-bring-our-history-home; or send a check or money order to: 

Buffalo Soldiers National Museum

3816 Caroline Street

Houston, Texas 77004

On the check memo line write: “Bring Our History Home Exhibit”

 

Charles Blatcher III is  chairman of the National Coalition of Black Veteran Organizations.

 

 

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