Black History – Buffalo Soldiers Have Florida Roots

By James Jones


When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, drawing the United States into World War II, Steve Lewis was a senior at the all-black Memorial High School in Palmetto.

“The principal, W. J. Anderson, had the students gather around a radio to listen to President Roosevelt,” Lewis recalled. It was Roosevelt’s famous “Day of Infamy” speech, which signaled the U.S. declaration of war on the Japanese empire.

Lewis spent most of 1942 in college at Florida A&M, and in 1943 entered the U.S. Army.

He was assigned to the 9th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Clark, Texas, one of the famed “buffalo soldier” units. After the Civil War, the 9th Cavalry Regiment was formed to escort settlers along the western frontier, and to fight in the late 19th Century Indian Wars.

It was the Cheyenne Indians who gave the black soldiers the nickname buffalo soldiers for their appearance and bravery.

For the rest of the story, pick up the January/February 2018 issue of ONYX Magazine.