Feb 04 2013

Feinstein, Boxer Introduce Bill to Commemorate Buffalo Soldiers

Authorizes study to memorialize contributions of nation’s first segregated units to the National Park system

Washington—U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-Calif.) today introduced the Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act. The bill commemorates the Buffalo Soldiers, the Army’s first all-African-American units, and the critical role they played in the early years of the National Parks.

“The Buffalo Soldiers acted as our nation’s first park rangers, and they left a rich legacy in California,” Senator Feinstein said. “This bill is the first step in memorializing the critical role the Buffalo Soldiers played in shaping our treasured National Park system. We must honor their contributions and make sure they are remembered by all.”

Created by Congressional Order in 1866, the Buffalo Soldiers bravely served our country both at home and abroad in the face of segregation and intolerance. The Buffalo Soldiers also left behind a legacy enshrined in our National Parks.

Buffalo Soldiers stationed at San Francisco’s Presidio patrolled Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, where they protected our parks from poachers and loggers, built trails, and escorted visitors. The Buffalo Soldiers were, in essence, our nation’s first park rangers.

“The Buffalo Soldiers were true trailblazers, serving as California's first park rangers and as the Army's first African-American units during a period of significant racial discrimination,” said Senator Boxer. “Passing this legislation will help ensure that their legacy is never forgotten.”

This bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to commission a study to:

  • Evaluate the feasibility of establishing a national historic trail commemorating the route the Buffalo Soldiers traveled between their post at San Francisco’s Presidio and Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks.
  • Identify properties to be considered for the National Register of Historic Places or National Historic Landmarks.
  • Develop educational initiatives and a public awareness campaign about the contributions of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) will introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

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