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News / Life / Clark County Life

Documentary created by Vancouver resident ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ coming to PBS

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 10, 2023, 6:00am

Vancouver filmmaker Dru Holley’s “Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts” debuts on Oregon Public Television at 9 p.m. Monday.

The documentary about Black soldiers in the post-Civil War U.S. Army will also screen on PBS partner World Channel at 9 p.m. June 19. (To learn more about watching online via World Channel, visit worldchannel.org.)

Holley’s inspiration struck in 2018, when he and his young daughter saw historical reenactors portraying Black U.S. Army soldiers of the late 1800s at the Langston Hughes Juneteenth Festival in Seattle. Holley spent four hard years raising $450,000 to make the film.

“The main objective was to have it distributed on PBS,” Holley said. “It’s truly a dream come true.”

“Buffalo Soldiers” is an unflinching look at the complicated lives of Black Americans who joined the U.S. Army in the late 1800s in pursuit of income, literacy and a better life. Many were sent West to fight tribes.

“The Buffalo Soldiers were used as a tool to subjugate Natives in the West,” Holley said. “As hard as it was to learn such things, I wanted to tell the true story.

The film’s central storyline follows Moses Williams, who fought Native Americans and then was stationed on the Oregon Coast. He is buried at the Vancouver Barracks Cemetery.