Colonel Charles D. Allen (U.S. Army, Ret.) is the Professor of Cultural Science in the Department of Command, Leadership, and Management at the U.S. Army War College, he reports in the Washington Post:


This week, the U.S. Army marked its 235th birthday on June 14 — and another anniversary that has a personal meaning to many of us. In 1877, Henry Ossian Flipper became the first African American graduate of West Point, the same school where this May the president and Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama, delivered the commencement address. That a black man would be elected president 130 years after the first black graduate of West Point would have been beyond the pale for many Americans of that generation and culture. . . .

Flipper’s graduation was marked with curiosity, fanfare, and respect by some for his success as a cadet. That respect, however, did not readily translate into a successful Army career. Assigned to the Buffalo Soldiers of 10th Regiment U.S. Cavalry, Flipper was charged and faced courts-martial for embezzlement of funds. Though found not guilty of that charge, he was convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer for filing false official reports and was dishonorably discharged.

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