Monday, May 25, 2009

Buffalo Thunder in Shaw 2009

Each year on the Sunday before Memorial Day, hundreds of members of Buffalo Soldiers and Troopers Motorcycle Clubs from around the country rally at the African American Civil War Memorial in Shaw to lay a wreath at the Memorial's Wall of Honor which lists the names of 200,000 + African American troops who served in the Civil War. The clubs are named in honor of the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers, which were comprised of former slaves, freemen and Black Civil War soldiers, who first served in the U.S. Army during peacetime after the Civil War.

A couple of hours of inspiring speakers, pageantry, music, costumes and house-shaking noise from hundreds of motorbikes, so what was missing? Well mostly the neighborhood. Sadly I was one of a handful non-club members present. The rally was held at the plaza at top of one of the U Street Metro exits but still the reaction of people arriving to the surface was a blase "Oh, look hundreds of bikers. Now which way to Ben's?"

So I represented. And darn well!

This rally appropriately takes place in Shaw since the neighborhood is named for Robert Gould Shaw (October 10, 1837-July 1863) who was the commander of the all African American 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry which entered the Civil War in 1863. Col. Shaw and his troops were the subject of 1989 film "Glory."
After the cermony the Buffalo soldiers queued up and rode to the Mall to join the better known "Rolling Thunder: Ride for Freedom."

One of the costumed ushers

The Buffalo Soldiers arrive!

Most are wearing the black and gold club colors

Bikes lined up on Vermont during the ceremony

The laying of the Wreath Ceremony

After the ceremony, the bikers head to the Mall.

Copy of the General Order 143 "Establishing the U.S. Colored Troops" that was handed out to the crowd: (click to enlarge)


Smarts said...

What a great tribute post! Too bad for the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Although unfortunate that residents in the Shaw neighborhood don't attend the ceremony, it is important to note that the BSMC motorcade begins in Maryland, from Landover Mall - through the streets of DC. Each year, as I am an actual participant, when we ride through the city streets of MD and DC en route to the ceremonial location in Shaw, we are greated with much pomp and circumstance e.g. waves from passerby's, car horns blowing, church members who take a moment out from worship services to come outside and wave, children running out of their homes (parents behind them - or in front) just to see the "Soldiers" go by, etc. Not only is this a tribute to the original buffalo soliders, the event provides much needed pride to the predominantly African American communities, who each year look forward to seeing this massive motorcade pass through their community. One Patch, One Mindset!

Herb of DC said...

@anonymous 1:01 PM

Thank you for posting your first person account.


Trina said...

I was at this event, and I must say that it was stellar.