Black Heritage Month, Buffalo Soldiers, and Shelton Johnson

I will be a historian until the day I die. I can imagine reaching with my wavering hand stretched out for my computer so I can go look up something at the Library of Congress website. That’s why when Black Heritage Month comes in February, I perk up.

The celebration of African American accomplishments was launched by Carter G. Woodson, the granddaddy of African American history. He first named the annual celebration Negro History Week, which was later expanded to Black History Month. Many now call the month of February Black Heritage Month.

Gloryland by Shelton Johnson

I could go on and on about environmental (that would include technology, science and medicine in my mind) contributions by African Americans. I am inspired to share a few things in the month of February 2010.

The Buffalo soldiers first come to mind. I learned about them many years ago. I knew they were a branch of the U.S. military launched after the Civil War. I also knew of two stories of why Native Americans gave these African Americans the name  buffalo: Native Americans believed African Americans were fierce fighters and had curly hair much like the buffalo.

As for the environment, African American men in the military serving in the American West, crossed and worked on numerous landscapes from deserts to prairies after the Civil War. News of the publication of  Gloryland: A Novel by Shelton Johnson led me to look for more online in connection to the novel, which was revelatory. What I did not know was that Buffalo solders served as some of the first national park rangers in California!

Learn more about the Buffalo soldiers and Shelton Johnson:

President Barack Obama and Shelton Johnson

Shelton Johnson

http://shadowsoldier.wilderness.net

Johnson has worked for the National Park Service since 1987 and is currently one of few African American park rangers at park ranger in Yosemite Park. He appeared in Ken Burn’s “The National Parks, America’s Best Idea,” a PBS documentary film. In 2009, Johnson’s  Gloryland: A Novel  was published by Sierra Club Books. It is the story of Elijah Yancy who was born on January 1, 1863 and traveled West in the early 1880’s. The novel is filled with environmental themes including rich descriptions of the landscape Yancy traversed across the country.

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One response

  1. Congratulations Shelton on your book and keeping our history alive.

    Keep telling that history:

    Read the novel, Rescue at Pine Ridge, “RaPR”, a great story of black military history…the first generation of Buffalo Soldiers.

    How do you keep a people down? ‘Never’ let them ‘know’ their history.

    The 7th Cavalry got their butts in a sling again after the Little Big Horn Massacre, fourteen years later, the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre. If it wasn’t for the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, there would of been a second massacre of the 7th Cavalry.

    Read the novel, “Rescue at Pine Ridge”, 5 stars Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the youtube trailer commercial…and visit the website http://www.rescueatpineridge.com

    I hope you’ll enjoy the novel. I wrote it from my mini-series movie of the same title, “RaPR” to keep my story alive. Hollywood has had a lot of strikes and doesn’t like telling our stories…its been “his-story” of history all along…until now. The movie so far has attached, Bill Duke directing, Hill Harper, Glynn Turman and a host of other major actors in which we are in talks with…see imdb.com at; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0925633/

    When you get a chance, also please visit our Alpha Wolf Production website at; http://www.alphawolfprods.com and see our other productions, like Stagecoach Mary, the first Black Woman to deliver mail for Wells Fargo in Montana, in the 1890’s, “spread the word”.

    Peace.

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