For enslaved Blacks the West offered freedom and refuge from slavery. It gave African Americans a chance to make a living. African Americans were pioneers cowboys and prospectors, African Americans have contributed to our African American History of the "Wild" West.
More than twenty-five percent of all cowboys were Black. The label “cowboy” is said to have been a derogatory term used to describe Black “cowhands”
The West provided African American men women and children, the chance for a life that could be known by skilled craft and not by the color of their skin. However, racism remained a significant part of daily life but to a lesser extent than in the South and outer areas of the United States.
Formed as a segregated African-American unit, the 10th Cavalry was one of the original "Buffalo Soldier" regiments. It served in combat during the Indian Wars in the western United States, the Spanish-American War in Cuba and in the Philippine-American War. It was the only African-American unit under American command that fought German soldiers (advisors) in World War I. The regiment was trained as a combat unit but later relegated to non-combat duty and served in that capacity in World War II until its deactivation in 1944.
Buffalo Soldiers were responsible for escorting settlers, cattle herds, and railroad crews. They also conducted campaigns against American Indian tribes on a western frontier that extended from Montana in the Northwest to Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona in the Southwest.