A good friend of mine sent me a sad but wonderful story she had read in your fine newspaper. After reading it, I was compelled to write and comment.
In this excellent and well-written piece, “From a pauper’s grave to Arlington honors” (Plugged in, Thursday), Martha M. Boltz writes about Cpl. Isaiah Mays, a Buffalo Soldier who received the Medal of Honor after being wounded in 1889 while defending a government payroll train against robbers. He will be reburied soon in Arlington National Cemetery after being transferred from a pauper’s grave in Phoenix.
I read in tears how Mays, after being shot in both of his legs, “walked and crawled” for more than two miles to the nearest help and how the robbers were acquitted soon thereafter. The robbers were “white, probably connected to local Mormons,” which was not a minor detail at the time. According to a man quoted in the article, convicting Mormons was not conducive to Arizona’s statehood efforts, “especially on the testimony of blacks.”
Little-known stories like this abound in America. Often white Americans tell us black Americans to “stop whining” and “get over it.” If they are talking about history such as this, let me know my history first before I have to forget it.
PAMELA A. HAIRSTON