Richard Allen Cultural Center and Museum Executive Director Edna Wagner looks a display case containing some of retired Gen. Colin Powell’s memorabilia, including a uniform he donated in 2003, Feb. at RACC in Leavenworth. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Charlotte Richter/Staff Writer

Several Buffalo Soldiers and significant figures in African-American history have roots in Leavenworth, and some of their history is highlighted at the Richard Allen Cultural Center and Museum. Tour guides can expand on the achievements of these local Black soldiers while showing visitors the memorabilia.

Richard Allen Cultural Center and Museum Executive Director Edna Wagner points out the Mason ring of local Buffalo Soldier retired Master Sgt. Jalester Linton among some of his World War I-era items during a tour Feb. 4 at the museum. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Richard Allen Cultural Center Executive Director Edna Wagner talks about local Buffalo Soldier Trooper James Madison’s contributions to the area Feb. 4 at the museum. RACC, located just off post at 412 Kiowa St. in Leavenworth, showcases the memorabilia of local Buffalo Soldiers and notable African-Americans who have served at Fort Leavenworth. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Of the Buffalo Soldiers featured in the RACC for their connection to Leavenworth and Kansas City, one exhibit features items that belonged to retired Master Sgt. Jalester Linton. Linton settled in Leavenworth and operated a barbershop following his military career in both World Wars as a Buffalo Soldier.

Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff retired Gen. Colin Powell credits Linton and his discussions in the barbershop with the inspiration for the Fort Leavenworth Buffalo Soldier Monument in his biography, “My American Journey.” According to “The People Behind the Names” by Quentin Schillare, the Fort Leavenworth Buffalo Soldier Monument commemorates the all-African-American 9th and 10th cavalry units established in 1866, and subsequent infantry units, who served in the segregated U.S. Army. 

“I have a personal connection to Jalester Linton,” said RACC Historian and Storyteller William Wallace, who was born and raised in Leavenworth. “I sat in those chairs in that picture (above the exhibit), and he cut my hair in those chairs when I was a child; I’ve known him that long.”

Wallace said he knew each of the local Buffalo Soldiers who is featured in the RACC, and he remembers listening to their war stories while at the barbershop. He said at the time, he didn’t know they were Buffalo Soldiers, but now he tells their history on guided tours.

The uniform of local Buffalo Soldier James Madison is on display at the Richard Allen Cultural Center in Leavenworth. RACC, located just off post at 412 Kiowa St. in Leavenworth, showcases the memorabilia of local Buffalo Soldiers and notable African-Americans who have served at Fort Leavenworth. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

“We didn’t really start knowing anything about Buffalo Soldiers until the late 1980s and 90s when (the Army) started making the Buffalo Soldier Monument.”

Wallace said sharing stories of the men he knew and their legacies as Buffalo Soldiers fortifies his personal and emotional ties to them.

RACC Executive Director Edna Wagner said she and others are working to get more information about the advances made by Black scientists and inventors into school curriculum.

“It’s something we’re working on, to incorporate into the school system where more of history for everyone’s nationality is incorporated in, instead of just kind of…the basic presidents, or what most kids learn about the presidents,” Wagner said. “They might learn about Martin Luther King (Jr.) or Rosa Parks — what about all these other people that contributed to African-American history and are still contributing?”

Wagner said she hopes that some day Black history will be taught as everyone’s history.

“For me, as I tell anyone, African-American history is 365 days of the year — somebody is making history in everyone’s nationality. I hope one day we get to the point where it’s not Black History Month, it’s that every day of the year, something is shared with your students or with a person about everyone’s history.” 

A uniform donated by retired Gen. Colin Powell, the first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. secretary of state who originated the idea for the Buffalo Soldier Monument, is on display at the Richard Allen Cultural Center in Leavenworth. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Wagner said she enjoys all of the RACC exhibits because of the excitement that comes from knowing the history of each case and photograph, especially because many patrons do not have a background on many of the artifacts or the people behind them. She said donations and family genealogy research inspire each exhibit. 

Visitors can tour the RACC from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, and by appointment. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children. Wagner suggests visitors allot about two hours for tours.

RACC offers guided tour options that include visiting the sites of the Buffalo Soldier Monument and the Circle of Firsts on Fort Leavenworth and historical sites connected to the Underground Railroad in Leavenworth. 

The RACC also offers tutoring services for students K-12 in the greater Leavenworth area from 4-5:30 p.m. If interested in the tutoring services or making a tour appointment, call RACC at 913-682-8772.

Some of retired Master Sgt. Jalester Linton’s World War I-era belongings, including a quilt made by his mother that he took with him wherever he was stationed, are featured in an exhibit at the Richard Allen Cultural Center in Leavenworth. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
William Wallace, historian and storyteller at the Richard Allen Cultural Center and Museum, talks about Chief Warrant Officer 4 Harry Hollowell, for whom Hollowell Court and Hollowell Drive are named on Fort Leavenworth, while looking at some items on display that belonged to Hollowell Feb. 4 at the museum. RACC, located just off post at 412 Kiowa St. in Leavenworth, showcases the memorabilia of local Buffalo Soldiers and notable African-Americans who have served at Fort Leavenworth. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

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