While serving as a one-star general at Missouri’s Fort Leavenworth Army base in 1982, Colin Powell decided that two gravel alleys weren’t enough of a tribute to the Buffalo Soldiers. It was 10 years in the making, but on July 25, 1992, Powell returned to the base to dedicate in their honor a 13-foot statue of an African-American soldier riding his horse, rifle in hand.
“I know where I came from. I stand before you, the first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and deeply mindful of the debt I own to those who went before me,” said Powell during the dedication ceremony, the Associated Press reported.
Buffalo Soldiers were comprised of former slaves, freemen and Black Civil War soldiers. They were the first Blacks to serve during peacetime and were organized at Fort Leavenworth in the 1860s. According to some folklore tales, they were given the moniker by Native Americans who’d likened their hair to that of the buffalo. According to other theories, it was because of the tenacity with which they fought or the coats made of buffalo hide they wore to keep warm.