By Kim J. Clark
Aka Expanding Love
In this article, we are showcasing a few individuals who did their part to help shape this great
nation by being willing to put their lives on the line. A very interesting point is, these individuals
made their mark at a time when slavery still existed in this country. The contributions made by
the people mentioned here, as well as other individuals of color should help us have a deeper
understanding and respect for the many brave men and women in our culture who have
contributed to America truly becoming, “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” In this
article they are referred to as a people of color for the following reason. Two were African and
Native American mix and the others were confirmed to have been slaves or were runaway slaves.
Since the United States of America did not exist at the time these men and women lived, this
writer does not believe it is appropriate to refer to them as African Americans.
A good place to start with our “walk down history lane” would be acknowledge the first
American killed in the American Revolution. Crispus Attucks, born in 1723, died on March 5,
1770, was the first person killed in the Boston massacre by British soldiers. It is not clear
whether or not he was a free man or an escaped slave. What is known and reported by
Bostonians is that he was of mixed ethnicity and was referred to as a “Mulatto man although he
was African and Native American (Wampanoag tribe), not African and white. It is reported that
“Attucks became an icon of the anti-slavery movement in the mid-19th century. Supporters of
the abolition movement lauded him for playing a heroic role in the history of the United States.”
Our next hero was a “minuteman,” a distinction very few blacks held. Born a slave and owned
by an army captain, Peter Salem lived from 1750 to August 16, 1816. The captain sold Peter to
Major Lawson Buckminster around 1775. Major Buckminster freed Salem to enable him to enlist
in Captain Simon Edgel’s company, a special force prepared to serve at a minute’s notice aka
Minutemen. Peter Salem fought in the Battle of Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts, which
was the first confrontation of the American Revolutionary War. Peter had a very exciting
military career. this writer would encourage you to learn more about this freed slave who became
a military hero. Visit https://doi.org/10.1093/anb/9780198606697.article.0600893 .
Our next stop on our “walk down history lane” takes us to the Seminole tribe of indigenous
people of America. The Seminole tribe is the only tribe that was not driven off their tribal land in
Florida. Our hero, Pompey Factor (1849 – 1928), a descendent of runaway slaves lived with the
Seminole tribe. He was a Black Seminole who served as a United States Army Indian Scout and
received America’s highest military decoration. In 1875, he received the Congressional Medal of
Honor for heroic actions during the Red River War.
Of course, we must honor a Buffalo Soldier. First Sergeant George Jordan (1847 – October 24,
1904) was a Buffalo Soldier in the United States Army and a recipient of the Congressional
Medal of Honor for his actions in the Indian Wars of the western United States including Apache
Wars, Battle of Fort Tularosa and the Battle of Carrizo Canyon.
To this writer, the most “colorful” of all the heroes mentioned here is Cathay Williams, a woman
who was American soldier who enlisted in the United States Army under the pseudonym
William Cathay. She was the first woman of color to enlist, and the only documented woman to
serve in the United States Army posing as a man.
This writer is very proud of these individuals who contributed to helping this nation becoming
what it is today. As people of color, we should be proud to be descendants of such great people.
No matter how our ancestors may have gotten here, historically, we have made great
contributions to “The land of the free and the home of the brave.”
To our military heroes, past and present, this writer proudly says, “You will never be forgotten.
And, thank you for doing what the rest of us are not willing to do.”
Kim is the mother of a veteran who loved his country and was willing to lay his life down for the
freedoms he believed in. She is the Founder and CEO of The DeMarco Project, Non-profit
organization. Her life’s mission it to save veteran lives and improve the quality of life for
traumatized military service persons. If you would like to support her in the work, donations are
welcome. Visit the website: www.TheDeMarcoProject.org.