Between 1899 and 1902 the United States engaged in a war of expansion, or imperialism in the Philippines. African-American soldiers were expected to “take up the white man’s burden” during this war for a country that did not see them as full citizens against another people of color. The white majority in the old Confederacy and Democratic Party were conducting a campaign of fear, terror and intimidation combined with the passage of strict segregationist laws at a state level that denied black Americans their rights of citizenship and voting. The white leadership of the Republican Party abandoned their black supporters and focused on reconciliation with southern states and the expansion of American “manifest destiny” around the world. By fighting in the Philippines against the First Philippine Republic, African-American soldiers were conflicted. They were in the words of W.E.B Du Bois “…an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” In the end the African-American soldiers, also known as Buffalo Soldiers, did their duty to their country. This small exhibit attempts to tell their story.
For more information about the research project and exhibit, read Justin K. Thomas's article: ‘Buffalo Soldier’ exhibit highlights role of black service members in Philippine-American War.
Exhibit created and sponsored by William and Mary Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies Program, Norfolk State University Department of American Studies, the Filipino American National Historical Society and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.