Friday, November 02, 2007
From The New York Times…
Fort Huachuca Journal
Preserving Black History in the Military, at the ‘Colored Officers Club’
By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. — The door to the tumbledown clapboard building, the one with the “Off Limits” sign, creaks open, and Harlan Bradford’s flashlight beam cuts through the shadows inside.
Now in the spotlight, bat droppings on the floor. Up above, drop-ceiling railings dangle like stalactites. A stage curtain in tatters hints at the shows, the many shows that once rocked this place, the former Mountain View Colored Officers Club.
“You can see and hear them and imagine everyone having a good time,” said Mr. Bradford, a retired Army man himself, glancing around at the exposed walls, the boarded-up windows, the dust. “Lena Horne sang here. Joe Louis did exhibition fights out here. There was nothing like it.”
It was, a report for the Army Corps of Engineers said, the only club built expressly for black officers during the days of segregation in the military. Other installations converted buildings for black officers and enlisted men, but the Mountain View club, it said, was the only such club built from the ground up.
And now, to the dismay of Mr. Bradford and the community group he leads, the Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers, it sits in ghostly tatters.
Almost every community in America has a “save the ...” campaign aimed at the old movie theater, the grand Victorian house, the stately oaks. Here that sentiment blends with a yearning, particularly acute among black Americans, to not only save but also rediscover the past.
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