By Michael Buhler
Jay Clark does not see his Buffalo Soldiers group as historic entertainment – he has a higher purpose when he and his compatriots ride in a historical re-enactment.
“My whole idea is to educate people,” Clark said. “I like to educate people on what all cultures – not just blacks – have done to shape this country. It’s really important to me to educate people on what every culture overcame. That way, young people can’t say that ‘I was dealt this hand and this is what I’m going to be.’”
Clark and the Nicodemus Buffalo Soldiers group will participate in the 2nd Annual Mid-Kansas Indian Wars Rendezvous, which will be held Aug. 24 at Riggs Park in Haysville and will help raise funds for the Haysville Community Library.
“I look forward to it a great deal – I organized it,” Clark said. “I worked with the Haysville Library and Betty Cantrell there. I look forward to it and hopefully, it’s going to catch on and grow. I look forward to it this year and in the years to come.”
The rendezvous will feature handcrafts, 19th-century era games, buggy rides, cavalry maneuvers, chuckwagon meals, historical re-enactors, and other things. Admission to the event is free.
The Buffalo Soldiers originally were founded in 1866 and, along with the Ninth United States Cavalry, were the first all-black peacetime regiments of the U.S. Army. During their existence, the Buffalo Soldiers fought in the Indian Wars, fought alongside Theodore Roosevelt, fought against Pancho Villa and also fought in the Johnson County War in Wyoming.
Clark’s historical re-enactment group, the Nicodemus Buffalo Soldier Group, was founded in 1996 to perform historic cavalry maneuvers and share the history of America’s forgotten heroes by Barrie Tompkins. Clark’s brothers were in the group and they eventually brought him into the group. He now has been re-enacting for nine years.
“My brothers did it before me,” Clark said. “They invited me to join them in Abilene (in central Kansas) and I fell in love with it.”
Clark, who works at Regal Plastics in Wichita as an inside salesperson – he said he “sells plastic of all kinds” – enjoys the historical re-enactments, which have brought many memorable moments.
“I can’t say there has been one particular moment, but the first time I was in Abilene – the first time I ever did any re-enactment – that time sticks in my mind more than anything else,” Clark said. “Seeing people’s reactions stood out.”