west point cadets

On This Day: Henry Ossian Flipper is born

Photo: Photograph of Lt. Henry O. Flipper, circa 1877.

On this day in 1856, Henry Ossian Flipper was born. Flipper was born into slavery in Thomasville, Georgia. During Reconstruction he attended Atlanta University. As a freshman, Representative James C. Freeman appointed him to attend West Point, joining four other black cadets. There they faced tremendous difficulty and discrimination from white students. Nonetheless, in 1877 he became the first African American graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He would later earn a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, assigned to one of the four all-black “buffalo soldier” regiments, and become the first black commanding officer of regular troops in the U.S. Army. 

Photo:  Cadet Henry O. Flipper in his West Point cadet uniform.

Black female West Point cadets cause controversy by raising their fists

A group of black female West Point cadets posed for the above photo last week, Some people said the girls were supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, others likened them to Black Panthers, which they say violates army code: The Department of Defense has a policy preventing service members from engaging in political activity while wearing a uniform or displaying a partisan political sign while on military land. 

As of April 28, West Point has opened an investigation to determine whether the women in the photo were in violation of any code. A mentor for many of the women in the photo said they were actually paying tribute to a popular musician.

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With the help of 50 cadets — students of color, LGB identities and women —West Point cadet Jozlyn McCaw created #ITooAmWestPoint. The campaign highlighted the racist, sexist and homophobic remarks they had heard with hopes of starting a constructive conversation about minorities on campus.

#ITooAmWestPoint never made it online — until now.