Friday, February 4, 2011

Black History Month-Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr.

Note: I decided to do a blog entry everyday, dropping some Black History facts about some of the more lesser known and talked about black people and events involving black people that have helped shape not only the nation's history, but the world.

Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr.

Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr., said to have been born July 1st 1877, was the first African-American Brigadier General of the United States Army and also was active in fighting for equality for African-Americans who served in the Armed Forces. He actually lied about his age and was really born in May 1880 in order to enlist in the army without the consent of his parents. He officially joined the army in 1899 and quickly rose the ranks in each of the different troops he was being reassigned due to his brilliance in the art of military tactics and leadership. In 1905, he became the Professor of Military Science and Tactics at Wilberforce University where he held the position for four years. He left the position for a few years serving as military attaché reporting on Liberia's military forces and patrolling the Mexican-American border, returning to Wilberforce in 1915.

He would consistently go back and forth between Wilberforce and other posts, but not before serving at Tuskegee University under the same position in 1920-1924 and again during 1931-1937, where he was also serving as a Captain of the United States Army. He would serve as a military tactics instructor for several battalions within his time away as a professor. In 1940 is when Davis Sr. became the first African-American to have the title as Brigadier General of the United States Army. To put his position in perspective, he was only 4 ranks away from becoming the General of the United States Army. One rank ahead of the Colonel and one rank behind Major General.

From there, he became the direct Commanding General of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Calvary division at Fort Riley and worked as an assistant to the Inspector General, which is where he served on the Advisor Committee for the Negro Troops Problems. This position is where Brigadier General Davis Sr. used his power and reputation in order to fight and regulate equality amongst the black soldiers and make sure they were being treated fairly while they were on tour, which they were under his watchful eye. His most prominent role in this was during his year stint during the European Theater of Operations where he served under Lieutenant General John C. H. Lee as a Special Assistant to the then Commanding Officer of the Communications Zone. His influence there was beneficial in his proposal to have integration of African-Americans in replacement units. After serving his country for over 50 years, he retired in the same position as Brigadier General in 1948, with Harry S. Truman presiding the public ceremony. During his tenure, he was rewarded with the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) and the Bronze Star. He died in Chicago, Illinois in 1970 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

1 comment:

  1. thank you for the black history posting of benjamin oliver davis sr. there are so many untold story for the men and women who have shape this county and so much for our younger generation to be graceful for.