Monday, May 31, 2010

Valorous Service

Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr.

Who is this man? Why is he important to us in terms of history, especially on this day of observance of those who have died and served their country?

The man is Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr., a distinguished and loyal United States military man who began his service in the Spanish American War. After serving in both World War I and II, he was tapped as an advisor for the purpose of being a de-segregationist of the U.S. military during World War II in the European arena.

He had a colorful career and was among those referred to as the Buffalo Soldiers (a most notable group of Black military men) and ultimately reached the rank of Brigadier General.

During Black History Month and a few weeks thereafter, it was interesting to not only read but also see dramatic representations of the attitudes toward soldiers of color. Their determination to be among those on the front lines in combat while face the very real danger of being killed in the line of fire was palpable in every line of dialogue among the male characters. In each instance, be they Japanese, Native American, Hispanic, or Black, they were denied the privilege of offering their blood, their limbs, their very lives to demonstrate that they were just as loyal and just as American as their White counterparts. Maybe that was a good thing in light of the fact that it meant they were more likely to go home intact to their wives and families. But staying in the shadows didn't show the world, let alone the White comrades, their willingness to stand and be counted as just as accountable, just as brave, just loyal to their country.

These were the ones who because of their cultural backgrounds were able to develop strategies that confused and confounded the enemy while allowing the U.S. forces to gain the upper hand. They wanted the opportunity to be used to their highest and best in service to their country and to freedom rather than relegated to the status of background players and mere servants. They fought a double battle not only on foreign soils but also an enduring one at home -- to be recognized and allowed. What an irony that their combat was not only for life and freedom of those being persecuted by the enemy but also for the freedom to be, live, and fairly compete for their day in the sun against, of all people, their fellow countrymen of another color.

But let us return to the original question. Who is this man, this Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr.? He is the man who served his country through three wars and over more than 50 years. He is the man who was pivotal in beginning the disintegration of the walls of racial barriers in the U.S. military, making it possible for each man to hold his chest high in presentment of the salute because he was standing in valorous service and full representation of his country. And he is even more.

Yvonne LaRose, CAC


Anne Gilbert said...

I came across this a little late, but I'm outraged we haven't heard more about this man. He was loyal to his country, despite all the crap thrown at black people at that time and well afterward. His service reminds me of the squadron of blacks, who showed they could protect bombers and fly planes, just as well as anybody else. And thank heavens, some of them are still around. Benjamin Oliver Davis isn't , and can't speak for himself. I'm glad someone is speaking for him.

Yvonne LaRose, CAC said...

Ah, you make reference to the Tuskegee Airmen. I don't remember that they were ever depicted in the vintage WWII movies that were so popular during the early 1950s. But awareness of the Code Talkers who were the Native American communications experts were shown.

We were still trying to repatriate our Japanese American citizens and their internment was not as publicized. But their participation in the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry part of the war effort on behalf of their country was depicted in film.

A friend shared the image of Davis with me. It had no caption nor explanation. Yet I kept looking at his face and feeling I'd seen it before and wondered.

Thanks so much for your interest.

Buffalo Soldier 9 said...

I salute you Yvonne, and thank you for a 'well' written brief bio on General Davis.

Of the many hats I wear, I'm a screenplay writer and a published author of, "Rescue at Pine Ridge", the story of the rescue of the famed 7th Cavalry, by the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers. Below is a taste of the lead up and synopsis of the story...enjoy. Also, General Benjamin O. Davis Sr. is mentioned within my novel, Rescue at Pine Ridge.

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

"If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated."

Dr. Carter G. Woodson 1875 – 1950

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

Marcus Garvey 1887-1940

"A tree without roots can bare no fruit, it will die."

Erich Martin Hicks 1952 - Present

Keep telling that history, our history:

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

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

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, James Whitmore Jr. and a host of other major actors in which we are in talks with see at;

When you get a chance, also please visit our Alpha Wolf Production website at; 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”.


Yvonne LaRose, CAC said...

Wow! And here I thought I was merely acknowledging another figure in history who is being overlooked. It will be wonderful to see your work on the screen, Bill. Keep us apprised of its release.

Keep pressing us to tell more of the stories and think about those who shaped it in some way.

Jacques Girard, Ph.D. said...

Thank you, dear (elusive) Yvonne, for this significant FWD!
Still wish you'd communicate with me at my email address:
Surprise me!:o)

Yvonne LaRose, CAC said...

It was more than a pleasure. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and respond!

What else would you like to see covered on this space that relates to history and diversity?

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