The African American Veterans Monument honors black service members


African Americans have fought in every military conflict in US history, despite being denied the rights and benefits afforded to their white counterparts. A new monument now recognizes his contributions to the nation.

Community leaders in Buffalo, New York gathered last week to unveil the African American Veterans Memorial. The monument, billed as the first of its kind, honors black veterans and active-duty service members from all branches of the military, according to the organization behind the project.

The monument covers 1,200 square feet at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, a museum dedicated to US military history. It features 12 concrete columns designed by the late local artist Jonathan Casey and his team at Solid 716, one for each major war the US has fought. The 10-meter-high columns represent the candles that military families would light when soldiers went to war, and the space between them corresponds to the time of peace between each conflict.

the stories of African American service members are also reflected throughout the monument.

“Indeed, African-American men and women have always been an integral part of the U.S. military despite not being recognized for their service and often denied the human rights they fought for,” Brenda Moore, a professor of sociology at the University. Buffalo, he said at the dedication ceremony.

“This monument gives us an opportunity not only to remember, but also to educate ourselves and future generations about the contributions and sacrifices African Americans have made to the American ideals of freedom, liberty and justice, not just for some, but for all.”

Blacks have historically faced racism and discrimination in the military. During the Civil War, black soldiers typically served in separate units commanded by white officers and were paid less than white soldiers. Americans continued to be disenfranchised during World War I and World War II as they fought in the name of democracy, and when they returned home after World War II, they were denied many of the benefits of the GI Bill. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order to end racial segregation in the military, but it took longer to implement the changes.

About 16 percent of the nation’s 1.34 million active-duty service members are black, according to a 2019 Pew Research Center analysis. Although black men are overrepresented in the US military, black service members are underrepresented in the officer ranks, ie. They are more likely than their white colleagues to be injured while serving their country, CNN reported in 2020.