For Release: July 18, 2003
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106
Black Group Demands Miramax/Disney Rename Film Use of "Buffalo Soldiers" Name Disrespects Achievements of Famed Black Regiments
Citing racial insensitivity and the inappropriateness in using the name of a highly-decorated group of black servicemen in a portrayal of corrupt soldiers, members of the African-American leadership network Project 21 are demanding that the Miramax Film Corporation and its parent company The Walt Disney Company rename its upcoming film "Buffalo Soldiers."
The movie "Buffalo Soldiers," based on a novel of the same name by Robert O'Connor and set to open in theaters on July 25, sarcastically portrays the U.S. Army in Germany in the late 1980s as filled with smugglers, drug abusers, fools and bigots. The movie has been completed for several years, but Miramax previously delayed its release because of the events of 9/11 and the war in Iraq. While not wishing to censor the content of the film, members of Project 21 are asking Miramax and Disney change the name to keep the film from incorrectly linking these damaging portrayals of the military with the black army regiments created after the Civil War that served with great distinction.
"When the name Buffalo Soldiers is uttered, the only thought that anyone has is of those brave men who fought valiantly for all of the people of the United States," said Project 21 member Michael King. "For Miramax and Disney to insult those men and women with this movie title is simply reprehensible. There is no excuse they can provide that can explain their complicity in this outrage."
Congress created six regiments of black soldiers in 1866. They served primarily in the western frontiers of the United States, but also took part in the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba and in the pursuit of Mexican bandit Pancho Villa. They acquired the name Buffalo Soldiers from the Plains Indians, who associated them with the fighting spirit of the sacred buffalo. The term was bestowed with respect, and the black soldiers proudly adopted the name. In 1879, 20 Buffalo Soldiers won the Congressional Medal of Honor for their heroic efforts in a battle in the New Mexico territory.
In contrast, a positive review of the film "Buffalo Soldiers" posted on the Internet Movie Database describes the film as "a dark, satirical look at the peacetime activities of the U.S. Army in Germany just before the [Berlin] Wall came down. It offers such a critical look at the army that every main character turns out to be a swindler, a wimp, an idiot, a junkie or a psychotic."
Project 21 member Geoffrey Moore says, "This film not only shows disrespect for our brave American men and women currently serving in the armed forces, but also shows a callous disrespect and ignorance or history of African-American contributions to this great nation."
King adds: "This movie would do nothing but tarnish the name of the Buffalo Soldiers, both past and present, in the minds of the public. The irresponsibility of the filmmakers borders on criminal in my mind."
Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.
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