California resident Donna Jackson-Houston loves people, different cultures and travel.
She's also been getting much more familiar with Arizona history in the last couple of years thanks to her paternal grandfather's intriguing past.
Lucius Franklin Monroe Jackson was born in Alabama in 1894 and joined the United States Army at the age of 21, where he was assigned to the all-Black 25th Infantry.
After serving in Hawaii, he was transferred to Camp Little in Nogales, Arizona in 1918.
"We always knew that he was a soldier in the United States Army over 100 years ago but it was less than two years ago that we realized that he was a Buffalo Soldier," Jackson-Houston says.
"And that actually changed everything for us, especially for myself. I had so many emotions. How did we not know that my father was a Buffalo Soldier?"
The more she learned about the soldiers and their history in this region, the more interested she became about this topic.
She was also surprised that many people- regardless of age, background or ethnicity- did not know much about these men.
So she set out to inform and engage residents, schools and other organizations about this part of United States history, and founded the Nogales Buffalo Soldiers Legacy Association whose mission is to shed light about this Nogales chapter which lasted from 1910 to 1933.
Once they left the army, many of the soldiers stayed in Nogales and married local women of Mexican descent.
This included Lucius Franklin Monroe Jackson who lived in the community for 75 years.
He wed María de los Ángeles Pérez from Sinaloa, Mexico and the couple had eight children followed by dozens of grandchildren and great grandchildren.
"I embrace my African American roots, I embrace my Mexican roots and even beyond that, my mother, her mother was Japanese. So I was raised in a multicultural family," says Donna Jackson-Houston.
She believes events such as the 2nd Annual Nogales Salute to the Buffalo Soldiers helps to raise awareness and contributes to cross-cultural communication and understanding.
The salute begins in the city's cemetery on Saturday January 28th at 10 am followed by an additional commemoration at city hall beginning at 1:30 pm.
The events are free and open to the public and will feature ceremonies with a Fort Huachuca Cavalry and Color Guard, the Nogales High School Choir, guest speakers, and other activities.
Donna Jackson-Houston says her group's goal is to continue the salutes every year.
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