A group of men and women are revving up their engines for a great cause. Toledo Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club, Inc. is a nationwide non-profit organization that conducts and participates in public events and services to help keep the people in the community safe, including right here in Toledo.
The organization’s roots come from a rich history of the United States Army’s Cavalry and Infantry Buffalo Soldiers that was enacted after the Civil War. The group began as six regiments of black soldiers and were deployed as peacekeepers of law and order after the war. Today, over 100,000 individuals across the country, including 16 members in Toledo, continue to carry out ideas and activities to build stronger communities.
“We probably wouldn’t be talking today if it wasn’t for what those soldiers did across the country back then,” said Earl Mack, president post commander for the Toledo Post. “A lot of our community service involved working with our children,” he added.
Making an impact in our communities
The main goal of Toledo’s organization, according to Earl, is to provide the community with ways to promote peace through educational retreats and other programs where children can learn first-hand how to react positively in uncomfortable situations. “When we bring these kids together, they begin building positive relationships with each other so as they grow up, they continue to stay close to one another and then you see that the violence in the community dissipates.”
The Buffalo Soldiers organize about a dozen different programs each year. Earl says one of the largest and most meaningful is the “Safe and Secure” program where it puts kids in the shoes of someone who is stopped by a police officer. In this activity, four kids are in a parked car and two kids play the role of police officers. The kids work through different scenarios, both stressful and non-stressful, to help them understand how they can avoid escalating the issue to keep peace. “This gives the kids a leg up on how police officers feel if they’re dealing with non-compliant citizens and what each party needs to do.”
Since the Toledo post’s inception in 2013, the Buffalo Soldiers have worked with several thousand kids throughout Toledo. You can read about the different community workshops by clicking here.
What’s referred to as the “armed ponies” by the Buffalo Soldiers are known to everyone else as motorcycles. “Kids love motorcycles,” said Earl. “When we’re riding in the city streets and kids see us on our motorcycles, they’ll come up and talk to us and we ask them how they’re doing in school and that’s how the conversation starts.”
Not everyone in the Toledo post rides a motorcycle, though. 11 members ride motorcycles while the others work behind the scenes to organize events and keep the train on the tracks.
If anyone would like to learn how to get involved in the Buffalo Soldiers, visiting their membership page on their website is the first step. You will find an application that gives a brief overview of what the requirements are to become a Buffalo Soldier. Earl said they look for individuals who are dedicated to their mission and who have a clean background.
“I was born and raised in the city of Toledo so I have a lifelong connection to it… not just myself, but the rest of us have a passion to do all we can to help all areas of the community.”