HOUSTON [December 11, 2012] – The Buffalo Soldiers are on the move again – this time to a new home on the Houston Community College Central Campus. The museum, founded in 2000 by Vietnam veteran and African American military historian Captain Paul J. Matthews, opened the doors to their new location, the 1925 Houston Light Guard Armory building at 3816 Caroline St., during the Veterans Day weekend. The Armory is a perfect venue to display the museum’s growing artifact collection and to provide educational opportunities.
The Buffalo Soldiers Museum purchased the Houston Light Guard Armory building in 2008. The old building was abandoned and up for sale by the city of Houston. Former Houston Mayor Bill White thought the purchase and use of the building by the Buffalo Soldiers Museum was an ideal match, a historic military building for a military historical organization.
The building is on the campus of HCC’s Central College, and the museum founder and board chair, Captain Paul Matthews, met with the president of HCC Central, Dr. William Harmon, to discuss a partnership between the college and museum. Dr. Harmon, excited that a national museum would be on campus, recognized its potential contribution to HCC’s newly developed global studies program.
“Simply put, it significantly adds to the academia depth of Central. It also provides a segue to the already planned introduction of our Global Studies program,” Harmon said.
HCC Central will house its Global Studies certificate programs on the third floor of the museum when that floor opens in a year or so. Students will have the opportunity to earn certificates in African American studies, Mexican American/Latino studies and in Women and Gender studies.
HCC Central also plans to develop a Military Studies certificate program at the museum as well, largely because the museum aims to broaden its collection of military items beyond its extensive collection of Buffalo Soldier artifacts.
“We want to partner with the museum on special exhibits, which would include possibly providing speakers from time to time, and really develop this into a full partnership,” says Dr. Cheryl Peters, HCC Central’s Executive Dean for Instruction and Student Services.
HCC Central students from such disciplines as history, sociology, psychology, education, mathematics, science, fine arts and even fashion design will also get the opportunity to complete academic cooperatives by becoming interns at the museum, says Dr. Peters.
Matthews added, “It is an opportunity for the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum to formally establish a relationship with HCC and demonstrate to the City of Houston a sincere commitment to education.”
For Matthews, the partnership between the museum and HCC is the avenue he was seeking to expand the museum’s educational possibilities. The museum plans to provide a unique educational experience through art, exhibits and interaction with men and women who have served our nation. Area students, from grade school through college, will learn about the African American military experience, from Crispus Attucks, the first casualty of the Revolutionary War to Colin Powell, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Desert Storm and the first African American to serve as Secretary of State.
The Armory offers 23,000 square feet for exhibits, a conference room for the community, learning facilities for Houston Community College, a military-based library for students, a gift shop and administrative space. A student lounge will be supported by Reliant Energy. The Light Guard Veterans Association donated $10 thousand to the museum and the building renovation with the provision that they host their annual meeting at the Armory.
The Buffalo Soldiers Museum is dedicated to educating, preserving and promoting the history, tradition and outstanding contributions of America’s Buffalo Soldiers and the African American military experience. Exhibits and presentations feature the men and women who served our country from the Revolutionary War to today. The history of America’s Buffalo Soldiers is exciting and unique, yet portrays a consummate American military experience. While African American soldiers have served in the U.S. military in every conflict since the Revolutionary War, it was not until 1866 that all African American Army units were created. The the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st infantry regiments were created during the Civil War. The four infantry regiments were later reorganized to form the 24th and 25th infantry regiments. The 9th and 10th Cavalry divisions, helicopters being the 21st century mount, are still a part of today’s Army.
At the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century, the Buffalo Soldiers had the harshest assignments at the most desolate posts. These soldiers fought Mexican revolutionaries, outlaws, renegade comancheros, rustlers and hostile Native Americans. They also explored and mapped the Southwest. There are many stories about the origin of the nickname, Buffalo Soldier. Many attribute the name to the Cheyenne warriors the soldiers fought in the late 1800s. The Native Americans called the members of the 10th Cavalry regiment “Wild Buffalos” due to their fierce fighting ability. Eventually, all African American soldiers were referred to as Buffalo Soldiers.
Matthews acknowledges that while the museum focuses on the story of the Buffalo Soldiers, it is about American History. “When a visitor to the museum learns about and appreciates the sacrifices of these soldiers, they learn about their nation,” he said. “The experience enhances their patriotism.”
HCC is one of the country’s largest singly-accredited, open-admission, community colleges offering associate degrees, certificates, workforce training and lifelong learning opportunities for 75,000 students each semester. HCC is composed of six colleges that serve the greater Houston area’s diverse communities by preparing individuals to live and work in today’s increasingly international and technological society. To learn more go to hccs.edu.
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