Tucson Buffalo Soldier Memorial - A Dream Realized
Making a Historic Memorial Dream A Reality
Since 2007 there were a few efforts to create some sort of memorial to honor the Buffalo Soldiers and showcase their exploits in Arizona. Many concerned citizens recognized that there were no monuments or museums in the Tucson representative of contributions Black Americans made in settling Southern Arizona and the West. Citizens wanted to see something that preserved and recognized the important contributions of the Buffalo Soldiers who were stationed in Arizona. In 2014, Councilmember (CM) Richard Fimbres, Ward 5, met with troopers of the Great Southern Arizona Area Chapter of Buffalo Soldiers and things began to move in a good direction. Even though it would take time (years), and a few setbacks, this partnership proved to have success through a series of activities and initiatives.
In 2015, City of Tucson Ward 5 Council Member Richard Fimbres and members of the Greater Southern Arizona Area Chapter (GSAAC) began to pursue public funding for the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial project. Although the Pima County bond program was not approved by voters that year, the team decided to regroup, revise, and reinvent the memorial plan.
In 2017, CM Fimbres received an arts grant from the Arts Foundation for a student project, and funds were used to commission three murals to be painted by the students from Ward 5, one of which was the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial displayed at the entrance of the Quincie Douglas Neighborhood Center.
In 2018, Tucson Marble and Granite was awarded a contract to design the granite memorial monument to be placed at the memorial site, in coordination with the Ward 5 office and Tucson Parks and Recreation. In June, the GSAAC membership voted to fund the memorial monument with a sizable donation from the chapter's treasury. CM Fimbres continued to lobby for funding for the memorial and was able to get the project into the Tucson Delivers Great Parks + Strong Connections, proposition 407 bond program, which was successfully approved by voters in November 2018.
In 2019, members of the GSAAC met with representatives of the City of Tucson and Ward 5 council office to start the memorial plaza planning process. The City hired Wheat Design Group to begin planning and design. In August, the GSAAC made a down payment to Tucson Mable and Granite company for the memorial granite monument.
In 2020, the project team finalized the plans for the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial plaza. The City hired M. Anderson Construction as the contractor and the groundbreaking took place on October 29, 2020. Plaza construction continued until final completion in late April 2021 when the granite monument was hoisted into its current location. The official unveiling and memorial dedication was held on May 3, 2021.