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MY four years were drawing to a close. They had been years of patient endurance and hard and persistent work, interspersed with bright oases of happiness and gladness and joy, as well as weary barren wastes of loneliness, isolation, unhappiness, and melancholy. I believe I have discharged—I know I have tried to do so—every duty faithfully and conscientiously. It had been a sort of bittersweet experience, this experimental life of mine at West Point. It was almost over, and whatever of pure sweetness, whatever of happiness, or whatever reward fortune had in store for me, was soon to become known.—Henry Ossian Flipper, the Colored Cadet at West Point
Henry Ossian Flipper was the first black man to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He did so on this date in 1877. He had been born a slave twenty-one years before that. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Buffalo Soldiers. While he had troubles and faced prejudice, he went on to a long professional career in various capacities with governments and as an engineer. He was also an author, writing his first book the year after graduation while at Fort Sill.
The prejudice he faced was a mountain compared to the molehills of prejudice faced by people in the United States today.Published in