Black Bald Films presents
Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts
By Dru Holley
- Question and Answer session with Director Dru Holley
- Buffalo Soldiers
This FREE community event is hosted by Garden Home Recreation Center.
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Established by Congress in 1867, many African American men enlisted in exchange for full citizenship as promised by the 14th Amendment but were denied this right by the Jim Crow laws established in the Reconstructionist South. Despite that, these patriotic men helped lead the United States expansion westward; they built and guarded the Pacific Railroad and served as park rangers in places like Yosemite before the U.S. government established the National Park Service.
These African American soldiers fought bravely in the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, the Mexican Punitive Expedition, World War I & World War II, but the Buffalo Soldiers also participated in the subjugation of Native peoples as the United States appropriated tribal land, the persecution of striking silver miners in Idaho, and against Filipinos fighting for independence during the Spanish-American War, resulting in a complicated legacy.
It is particularly relevant today as our country is roiling with the agony of racial strife. By combining a multitude of diverse perspectives, the film examines the profound and often-contradictory roles played in American history by The Buffalo Soldiers, and how they fought on two very different sets of front lines: military conflicts abroad and civil rights struggles at home.
Dru Holley, Director/ Producer
Dru Holley is a director and producer who is passionate about producing inspiring stories that empower viewers to rethink broken systems. Dru is motivated to highlight the stories of marginalized groups whose experiences can help shape conversation for solutions and illuminate the truth of the past.
Dru graduated from the Art Institute of Colorado, where he specialized in video broadcasting. Dru was selected by Stanley Nelson, the iconic African American filmmaker, for the prestigious 2020 Firelight Documentary Lab Fellowship, Black Public Media 360 Incubator, and the 2022 Better Angels Levine fellowship.
He recently collaborated on developing four short-form episodes on the past, present, and future of the Albina Vision Project in Oregon. Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts is his feature directorial debut.
Debra Simon, Co-Producer
Debra M. Simon, Producer IMDb is an award-winning documentary producer and writer. Recent projects include the Restorative Justice Documentary for Narrative Alchemy. Production Manager for the PBS 4-hour documentary series, Hacking Your Mind (debuts in Sept 2020). Debra has produced for CBS, NBC, A&E, Discovery, Showtime, 20th Century Studios, Universal, and Lionsgate. Co-produced the Academy Award Nominated documentary, Beyond the Mat (2000), is a recipient of the World Fest Platinum Award for the Historical Screenplay, Season of the Witch, and several Telly/Webby Awards.
Dan Evans, Editor/Story Producer
Dan Evans is the principal filmmaker of Storywise, a Portland-based production company with a global reach. Dan has been a trusted partner on multiple films, series, and digital media for National Geographic, PBS, and international organizations like JPMorgan Chase and USAID. He has shot and produced films on five continents and 14 countries, including difficult locations like Afghanistan and Libya. Dan won an Emmy Award for his work with OPB. He works in Spanish and English.
Iana Amauba, Motion Graphics/ Creative
Iana Amauba a creative designer with a diverse background in motion design, graphic design, and traditional fine art. She combines a variety of techniques bringing unique visual expression to projects large and small. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from The New York Academy of Art. Iana’s artwork has been shown throughout the United States including the Studio Museum of Harlem in New York in addition to being a part of public and private collections in Oregon and Washington.
Iana is a Portland-native passionate about the experiences and stories of the Pacific Northwest.
Carlos Simon, Composer
As a part of the Sundance Institute, Simon was named as a Sundance Composer Fellow in 2018, which was held at the historic Skywalker Ranch. His string quartet, Elegy, honoring the lives of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner was recently performed at the Kennedy Center for the Mason Bates JFK Jukebox Series. With support from the US Embassy in Tokyo and US/Japan Foundation, Simon traveled with the Asia/America New Music Institute (AANMI) on a two-week tour of Japan in 2018 performing concerts in some of the most sacred temples and concert spaces in Japan including Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Japan.
David-Paul B. Hedberg, Associate Producer/Research
David-Paul B. Hedberg is a historian specialized in the history of the Pacific Northwest. He has worked professionally as a historian for over a decade and holds MA and BS degrees in history. Through his firm Outdoor History Consulting, Dave works with filmmakers and other clients to create historically accurate stories that are grounded and utilize the power of archival materials. He has done projects for NW Documentary, OPB, City of Portland, City of Gresham, and the National Park Service.
Dave firmly believes in collaboration; always striving to tell stories that have many sides and use the past to help us understand our current times.
In 2018, I volunteered to film the Langston Hughes Foundation Juneteenth celebration in Seattle. I was a new creative transplant to the Pacific Northwest and wanted to get more involved in the black film community. I knew this would be an opportunity to introduce my family to a rich African-American history and explore my passion for cinematography. While catching some shots, my wife and kids wandered the grounds and checked out the festival.
After a while, I heard my daughter yell, "oooh, horsey!" I looked up from my camera to see something that made me proud. A group of Black Union soldiers (looking like they were right ut of the 19th century) galloped up the hill on horseback.
Then she said, "Who are they, daddy?" I was surprised she didn't know. Well, to be honest, I barely knew myself.I told her what I did know, "Those are The Buffalo Soldiers!"
That's when I knew we all needed to know their story.
The story of the Buffalo Soldiers involves historical complexities like race, class, power, colonialism, and western expansion. Typically, these stories sometimes mention African-Americans but are seldom told with African-Americans as the central characters. This film focuses on these Black men, named and nameless, who were part of this complicated history of the American West. It avoids a simplistic hero narrative, showing how these formerly enslaved people were part of a complex process of colonialism and the removal of Native peoples from their homes through military service. It also speaks to the prejudice these Black men overcame from slavery to service for the country.
It is our responsibility to tell our story. As a Black filmmaker, I want to provide an inspiring story about history often left out of school textbooks. We want to give younger generations examples of Black history that transcends the stereotypical cast of Black History Month characters like Harriet Tubman and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We want young kids to know the accounts of people like them that stretches across the nation and is not just limited to stories from the inner city or of slavery. We want our children and our children’s children to have more knowledge of their past than we did.
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