Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Forgotten Men" of Black History 2: Henry Ossian Flipper

Today's Forgotten Man is Henry Ossian Flipper, the first African American to graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point.

Flipper was born into slavery in Thomasville, Georgia, in 1856. He attended Atlanta University (under the protection of the presence of the United States Army during the Reconstruction period) and while he was still a freshman he was appointed to West Point by Representative James Crawford Freeman (who, despite his last name, was not of African-American descent...).

Flipper, a member of the Class of 1877, joined four other
African-Americans at West Point. They were harassed and ostracized by the white cadets, to the point that the other four eventually dropped out. Flipper was left to eat his meals alone, study alone, and attend class with cadets who refused to speak to him.

Regardless of the hardhips he was forced to endure (Jackie Robinson's seem to pale by comparison), Flipper graduated West Point in 1877 and was commissioned a lieutenant in the US Army. He was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment and was the first African-American to command a troop of Buffalo Soldiers.

Read the entire history of Flipper, and especially the part that the appropriately-named William Rufus Shafter (aka "Pecos Bill") played in kicking Flipper out of the Army with the officer-equivalent of a dishonorable discharge, which happened apparently only because Shafter hated seeing black officers. BTW, Fort Shafter in Hawaii is named for this racist pig of a general, as is the town of Shafter, California.

Anyway, Flipper spent the rest of his life trying to contest the charges brought against him on Shafter's behalf, and trying to overturn his discharge. Flipper died in 1940, but the battle was fought on by his descendants and others, who finally were successful only in 1999 when Bill Clinton finally pardoned Henry Flipper.

This pardon resulted in a bust of Flipper being on display at West Point, along with an annual award to the cadet who exhibits "leadership, self-discipline, and perseverance in the face of unusual difficulties." Indeed...

Fortunately for history, Henry Ossian Flipper was also an accomplished writer, and his autobiography, The Colored Cadet at West Point, is available for download in a variety of formats from Project Gutenberg.

15 Comments:

Anonymous said...

black history is alive and true each and every one of us....this history of life started in africa...we came up the nile river..the only river in the world..and cilization began..black kinge and queens of egypt and the pyramid were built..and over the mediteranian sea..black kings of rome..even popes were black..to the black generals of napolians army..de saint george was comander of napolians black army and cavalry...de saint george went to the royal military acad of france..alexzander dumas was his second in comand....to this day blacks have been in the schools,,,universites and armies of the world as generals and king...from a brother on the black history safari of life...vp st emma acad rotc 56..59...pmc rotc 59..60...unm air force rotc 60..63..and then sweden university of lund...just a brother who has lived the black history of life... back to africk and around the world...china...australia...south africa..west africa...egypt and tunisia...we are alllll stil on the black history safari of life...vp air and land and sea rotc safari around the world..brothers and sisters.......

Anonymous said...

dear brothers and sisters at 71 this safari of life is not so long any more...brother cortez williams of the unm,,,started up african american history at unm...i was there from 60 to 63...then i left the unm for the worlds across the seas and oceans...from europe i went back to africa...north...west..east and south...africa was like comming home.......but i returned to europe..to carry on the work of this safari history of life...the brothers and sisters along the way..we try to share the history of the world...but the people ..our people at home in the usa have done agreat job...the usa has more black universities than any place on earth...you brothers and sisters at home in the usa and africa are the past ...present ..and the future..so this safari history of life lives in you and your dreams.. my safari is not so long anymore...but you alllllll will go on and on and on...this african history of life in all of you...god bless you all. from the safari prince

vonnie said...

the history of the black world is changing again....they are comming back to africa.....before long they will be in east and west africa....they are in west africa...what next south africa......alllllll this is not by accident....the western world is bank rupt.....china has allllll tha money....china has it alllll... just you waite and see...its all on tv.....they have come back to africa,,,,,just you waite and seeeeeeeeeeee...the safari prince can see

Farnsworth68 said...

Okay...

vonnie said...

i just told a black history of the world...and then it all went away...hwy did you do that....a note from de prince

Farnsworth68 said...

???!!!
What are you talking about, prince?

vonnie said...

im talking about the history of the black world....the other night i wrote and wrote...im over 70 years old i can hardly see the keys some time....time is running out for some of us....we neeed the input...as much of it we can get...we have seen all those pissed off veterans over here in europe and sweden....they are all dying off......we just want to tell a bit of the story....before its to late for some of us.......we blacks are just ten percent of those pissed off vets....the 90 percent are they whites......and most of them are all dead now.........even the blacks we hardly see now.....i know some went back to the states.......many are dead........we just want a few words to say before the rest off us are dead........daspora....diaspora...this only some of what we want to say now.....i hope you all got more time.....because our time is running out...thats it .... for now......we still want to say more.......hope we got a little more time....thanks for the input.............by for now....de safari prince

vonnie said...

the dyer straits of whiteness....as they see us and the world history....well thats not going to work anymore....our history is black...get that...black and beautifull...even though they set up great opsticles to confuse and distort life and history........the chicken has come home to roost....africa is on the marchand we are the 9th and 10th calvary....dig that......fentrivia...ha ha...but some one has to do the job....san won hill....hamburger hill.....its all comming back to africa and we are comming home.......boots on the ground..........de prince africanus

The Safari said...

oh my god.....we nearly forgot those 1000 black army pissed off vets that were mudered by white police white mps in mississippi back in 43 44......that wasmurder most like what the germans did to some blacks ib belgium....but the germans did not kill 1000 black american soldiers like that...the mississippi killings of black american army soldiers.......what was that all about.....i am sad so sad........but shall and have overcome.....over but not out for now..........de black prince

The Safari said...

you see you allllllll they dis us again...... another black history story pushed away......why do they do that...........to us from de prince

Anonymous said...

is this working.....is there any body there........for days now have been trying to get in touch...........the drums are beating.......the cry for freedom.........is in the wind.....when will obamma send a jet to bring the last of the old veterans home from sweden and europe...........hope somebody....can hear us out there......somebody...the safari prince

Farnsworth68 said...

Jeez, dude, you posts are going up here as soon as you send them, almost. If you are trying to start some kind of movement, you might try another blog. I have literally dozens of readers and they are spread out all over the place.
--The F Man

Farnsworth68 said...

...and if you want somebody to be in touch, it might help if you gave an email address, a website, or your own blog. No one can get in touch with you as it stands because no one knows who you are.

Anonymous said...

please no movement....thats not it at alll...just trying to say a few words......and tell something about the last of us over here....no movement is going to help anybody here......they are all so old.....nobody cares.....just a few old men talking......to old for catch 22...cant swim.....thanks for the input....soon we will all be in potters field.....no flag...no glory...........just a forgotten......story.....thanks for the input.... prince

vonnie said...

the safari prince photo show flickr.........a black history of the world.....50 years and more in pictures......st emma military acad........59.........pmc.......pennsylvania military collage59 60,,,,,,unm afrotc 60 63.......university new mexico aluquerque...assocate arts...university lund sweden...63