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In 1866, in recognition of the contributions of over 180,000 African American soldiers who had fought valiantly in the Civil War, Congress called for the formation of African American Cavalry and Infantry regiments. The legacy of these troops, known as the Buffalo Soldiers, is complicated. Sent to the Plains to build the infrastructure of western expansion, they often engaged in direct contact with, and removal of, indigenous tribes. They participated, separately, in every war from 1866 until the integration of U.S. troops after World War II, including the storming of San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War. The issue of race has meant a history steeped in limitations of individual choice and opportunity.
Alyssa Arnell holds an M.A. in History from Florida Atlantic University and an M.S. in Legal Studies from Kaplan University. She has taught at Dillard University and, since 2017, at Greenfield Community College, where she works to build a history program that celebrates diverse voices.