PHOENIX — An organization that honors the history of Arizona’s Buffalo Soldiers is up against the clock to finish a monument outside the state capitol.
Dressed like the Buffalo Soldier who first arrived at Fort Huachuca in the late 1800s, Commander Fred Marable and Deputy Commander Michelle London-Marable have dedicated a part of their life to share a story that’s centuries old.
On the mild winter Arizona day we met, the husband-and-wife duo said they’ve worn the handmade uniform in over triple-digit desert heat – just like the Buffalo Soldiers did.
“They’re our foundation, to look up to,” said Fred.
Buffalo Soldiers got their name from the Native Americans they fought who couldn’t help but respect the Black soldier’s valor in battle.
As a war reenactor, Commander Marable suggests how Native Americans may have reacted upon fighting a Black solider for the first time during the civil war.
“We’ve never seen anything like him before, his eyes are brown like the buffalo, his hair is black and curly like the buffalo,” said Marable.
The Marables today look to convey a simple message about their ancestors; although they may look different from the outside, the bloodshed from a Buffalo Solider to defend the country is the same color as every other soldier.
“They wanted to do that because they wanted to be soldiers too,” said Marable.
So, to honor those who came before them, the Marables worked with Arizona state lawmakers back in 2017 to put a monument outside the Capitol.
SB1179 and HB2419 were passed with little to no push back in 2018 and the state gave the ‘OK’ needed to start a monument east of the Capitol in the Wesly Bolin Memorial Plaza.
The monument would include a statue of Cathay Williams, known to be the only documented Black woman to serve in the army in the 19 century. She’s the only known black female Buffalo Soldier. She went by William Cathay and dressed like a man to serve her country.
As of February 25, over $100,000 has been raised by the Buffalo Soldiers. The monument they’re hoping for is $650,000.
“We ran into a problem because of COVID 19,” said Michelle.
The Marables say there’s a deadline to finish the monument by 2025 but the monument they want is estimated to take 18 months for it to be completed.
The Buffalo Soldiers AZ Territory hopes to raise the rest of the money by sometime next year.
So in the meantime, the Marables will continue to fight the good fight in hopes to erect these statues.
“History is our foundation in this country,”