It is Black history month and I try to bring some black history that has been missed in your education.
Have you ever heard of David Fagen?
The year is 1899 and the place is the Philippines.
You won’t find this story anywhere else for Black History Month, but you should! By the mid-1900’s, a “Buffalo Soldier” named David Fagen was virtually a household name, particularly in the African American community. Fagen’s story makes myth of the false contention that African Americans offered little resistance to institutionalized racism from the Civil War until the end of WWII.
Was Fagen a hero or “a mad dog”? The answer is rooted in whether you believe that fighting against U.S. colonialism/imperialism in 1899, in this case the U.S. war of Philippine conquest, is righteous and worthy of giving rise to a true hero, martyr and courageous Buffalo Soldier, who deserted the U.S. side and joined the Philippine Revolutionary Army. The PRA was fighting to establish their own independent republic after the Spanish were kicked out.
In diaries and letters, Black soldiers posted in the Philippines. recounted how racism was endemic in the U.S. military, describing the racist abuses suffered by both African Americans and Filipinos.
Fagen was a native of Tampa, Florida, the youngest of 6 children of former slaves. He grew up where Jim Crow racial segregation laws prevailed. With the specter of lynching, race riots and the chain gang looming over Tampa’s Blacks, Fagen “lived in dread at all times.” Searching for any escape from Jim Crow, Fagen enlisted in 1898, being assigned to the 24th Infantry Regiment, a unit of so-called Buffalo Soldiers.
Expansionist USA, intent on developing a global commercial empire, dispatched 6000 African American soldiers, including 2100 of the famed Buffalo Soldiers, to the Philippines islands per President McKinley’s assessment that the racial inferiority of Filipinos justified denying them sovereignty and engaging in a bloody war of conquest. Fagen, now on the battlefield, detested his white commanding officer Lt. Moss, a West Point graduate. Moss and Fagen clashed repeatedly, with Moss eventually fining Fagen more than a month’s pay and sentencing him to 30 days of hard labor. Life was immutably altered when Fagen, after a few months of battling Filipino rebels, turned his back on the U.S. army and joined Filipino revolutionaries who were actually fighting against American invaders.
Forgotten: an African American Soldier Turned Rebel Leader in the Philippines
Regardless of what one thinks of his actions he is still a person from history and his life and actions should be studied.
I Read, I Write, You Know
“lego ergo scribo”