A new documentary, Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts: A Local, USA Special, focuses on African-American soldiers who served in the United States Army. This PBS primetime special explores the often-contradictory role played by Black soldiers throughout American history, with particular emphasis on the settling of the American West and colonialism abroad.

Filmmaker Dru Holley created the production as part of the network's Open Call for Emerging Filmmakers initiative, which awarded eight individuals funding to support their films, with the opportunity of being shown across PBS and their collaborative platforms. 

"I feel honored to be able to share the story of America’s Black soldiers with the world through this film and to have been selected as one of the filmmakers for PBS’s Open Call, Holley shares. "I hope that viewers will walk away from Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts: A Local, USA Special with a greater understanding and appreciation for the sacrifices that Black men and women have made to build America and to raise themselves in the face of immense barriers at home and abroad.”

Get ready to dive into this exciting part of American history with these three fascinating facts from the film.

Black soldiers have a long history on the battlefield

Black soldiers have served in every major US conflict, Holley declares, from the American Revolution to World War II. But these brave fighters were not fully integrated into the U.S. Army until the 1950s and often faced discrimination when they returned to American soil.

Only one woman served as a Buffalo soldier

Cathay Williams, posing as a man under the name William Cathay, was the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. military, Holley shares (she successfully passed a medical examination). After a brief stint in the army, she joined the Buffalo Soldiers, the army's first Black peace-keeping around 1869. Native Americans referred to the black cavalry troops as "buffalo soldiers" because of their dark, curly hair, which resembled a buffalo's coat, and because of their fierce nature of fighting, according to National Park Service.

Charles Young is America's first Black U.S. national park superintendent

A trailblazer as the first Black superintendent of a national park, Charles Young was one of the few African Americans to attend West Point Academy and the third to graduate from the military academy. There were no other Black graduates for half a century after him, from 1889 to 1936.

Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts: A Local, USA Special premieres June 12, 2023, at 10 p. ET on PBS and June 19, 2023, on WORLD at 8 pm ET.