Black pastor organizing black history celebration: Buffalo Soldiers history revisited with monologue

HARLINGEN — It was a brisk windy morning at the Fort Brown campus in Brownsville when Pastor Ray Ellington was researching black history in the Valley.

That day he was looking into the history of the Buffalo Soldiers who were stationed at Fort Brown and fought in the Civil War. He met up with Dr. Tony Zavaleta, board of trustee of Texas Southmost College, who has written and researched about the African American troops stationed at Fort Brown between 1864 to 1906.

Ellington, originally from Arkansas, and an Army veteran is the pastor at the Corinth Baptist Church in Harlingen.

His recent trip to find out as much as he could about the Buffalo Soldiers stationed in Brownsville was because of the community event he’s spearheading focusing on black history in the Valley.

The all-day event will be Sunday, Feb. 26, from 11a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1201 W. Van Buren Ave. in Harlingen.

Ellington is requesting all African Americans in the Valley and the community to come and enjoy the day remembering black history in the Valley together.

“The reason we are doing this is because I’m a newcomer to the Valley and I had no idea of the black history here,” Ellington said. “When I started finding out about the rich African American history I knew I had to do this.”

Ellington said there are a significant number of blacks living in the Valley who don’t know the history of African Americans here.

He said the idea that this is a Hispanic community and blacks have no history here is wrong.

“There have been some black heroes in the Valley and blacks have been here since the early 1800s,” Ellington said.

Ellington will start the event with a Sunday church service at 11 a.m. and then will have guest speakers present about the Buffalo Soldiers and black history in the Valley.

“I am excited about coming down to the Valley,” said Captain Paul Matthews, Buffalo Soldiers National Museum founder. “The African military experience story has not been told.”

And to tell the story about Buffalo Soldiers professional actor Wayne DeHeart will be presenting a monologue theatrical performance as a Buffalo Soldier.

Matthews said African Americans have been involved in the American military experience dating back to Crispus Attucks, the first American casualty in the American Revolutionary War in 1770 to Gen. Colin Powell’s involvement in the Iraq war as Secretary of State in 2005.

“The purpose of the Buffalo Soldiers reenactment is to honor the brave men and women who fought and died for America,” Matthews said.