WW1 soldiers
Soldiers of the 369th (15th N.Y.) who won the Croix de Guerre for gallantry in action. Front row (l to r) Pvt. Ed Williams, Pvt. Herbert Taylor, Pvt. Leon Fraitor, Pvt. Ralph Hawkins. Back row: Sgt. H.D. Prinas, Sgt. Dan Strorms, Pvt. Joe Williams, Pvt. Alfred Hanley and Cpl. T.W. Taylor.

The University of New Mexico Africana Studies Program celebrates the 100th anniversary of World War I on Saturday, Nov. 8 from 3 – 5 p.m. at the New Mexico Veterans Memorial. The UNM Africana Studies’ inaugural Veterans Day program honors African American veterans from Albuquerque.

The presentation and awards ceremony will be conducted by Robert Jefferson, director of Africana Studies, and author of “Fighting for Hope: African American Troops of the 93rd Infantry Division in WWII and Postwar America.”

The Buffalo Soldiers Society of New Mexico performs a Presentation of Colors, a ceremony that presents or retires the U.S. flag. Established in September, 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the Buffalo Soldiers were initially part of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army. The New Mexico Veterans Memorial is located at 1100 Louisiana Blvd S.E.

It is uncertain how Buffalo Soldiers got their name. One account is that their brave nature was reminiscent of the way buffalos fought; another account suggests it may have been because they wore heavy coats made from buffalo hide in winter. Buffalo Soldiers, many of whom earned the Congressional Medal of Honor, fought in the Indian and Spanish-American Wars, in the Philippines, Cuba and Mexico. According to the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Leavenworth, they had the lowest desertion rates and the highest re-enlistment rates of any U.S. Army unit at the time.

Also scheduled is the viewing of a shortened version of the 1977 documentary, “Men of Bronze.” An inspiring tribute, it tells the story of the black American WW1 soldiers of the 369th U.S. combat regiment, the 15th Infantry from New York, the unsung heroes known as the "Harlem Hellfighters."

The event is co-sponsored by UNM African American Student Services, New Mexico Veterans Memorial, Kirtland Federal Credit Union, Buffalo Soldiers Society of New Mexico, Nexus Brewery and Restaurant, and Q’s Cakes.

For more information, email Charles E. Becknell, Jr. at cbeck@unm.edu.