Buffalo Soldier Gets Historical Marker on Tennessee State Campus - Higher Education
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Buffalo Soldier Gets Historical Marker on Tennessee State Campus

by Walter Hudson

Tennessee State University will bestow an honor on one of its alumni, Lt. William McBryar, a Buffalo Soldier who was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in 1890 during the Cherry Creek Campaign in the Arizona Territory.

On Tuesday, the university will reveal a historical marker on campus to officially recognize and honor McBryar, who graduated from the university in 1934 at the age of 73 with a degree in agriculture.

Buffalo Soldier, Lt. William McBryar

Last year, the university honored McBryar’s service during the school’s Veterans Day observance.

TSU’s president, Dr. Glenda Glover, will join lawmakers and military officials at the ceremony, which will feature Lt. Col. Paul Coakley delivering the keynote address. Coakley is a U.S. Army veteran and president of the Nashville Chapter of the National Association of Buffalo Soldiers.

McBryar, who was biracial, was heralded for his “coolness, bravery and marksmanship,” while his 10th Cavalry troop was pursuing Apache warriors, according to an official citation in his honor.

TSU officials said there have been 3,498 Medal of Honor recipients dating back to the Civil War, but only 90 are Black, including McBryar.

“Medal of Honor recipients are some of the most outstanding people in all of our nation’s history,” Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper said at the Veterans Day program at TSU in November. “I’m proud that a TSU graduate received that medal.”

According to TSU officials, McBryar went on to serve with the 25th Infantry in the Spanish-American War and fought at El Caney, Cuba. He also saw action in the Philippine Insurrection before demobilizing in San Francisco.

After leaving the military in 1906, he moved to Greensboro, N.C. and married a nurse named Sallie. The two relocated to northern Virginia, where McBryar worked as a watchman at Arlington National Cemetery and served as a military instructor at Saint Paul’s College, a private, historically Black college in Lawrenceville, Va, that closed in 2013.

Determined to earn the college degree that he started at Saint Augustine’s University before he enlisted in the military, McBryar enrolled at Tennessee Agriculture & Industrial State University (the institution changed its name in 1968) and later wrote for “The Bulletin,” a college-sponsored publication that chronicled issues relating to social justice and developments in Germany, TSU officials said.

McBryar died in 1941 at the age of 80 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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