Club member Errington “Bigg EE” Licorish sits back on his Honda Gold Wing.
ND even though the
army was officially
integrated in 1948,
the country was not.
Segregation had the force of law in
“The army was considered fully inte-grated
at that point, but segregation and
racism were still alive,” Shakur says.
The members of the Buffalo Soldiers
Motorcycle Club are well aware of the
history. They are required to learn it
before putting on the vest.
“When probies are in line to try to
get membership in the club, we make
it a necessity they learn the history of
the Buffalo Soldiers,” Shakur says. “It’s
all about researching your own history.
People aren’t just going to give it to
That includes the history of the club.
It’s a nationwide organization, started
by Chicago police officer Ken Thomas
in 1993. It spread to North Carolina
in 2001, and to Wilmington in 2011
when Sam Splicer and four other bikers
organized the local chapter. Graham soon became the sixth member.
“I was the club’s first probie,” he says. “That’s the step you go
through to become a member. They started the club three months
before I joined.”
The Wilmington chapter — which draws its members from New
Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, Onslow and Columbus counties — is
one of five in the state, and one of 120 in America.
The mission statement of the first chapter included the mandate
that the club promote “a positive image among Blacks that would
be respected in the community and throughout the country,” to
“pay homage to and ensure the legacy of African-American military
contributions in the post-Civil War era,” and to “share enlighten-ment
of the heritage that African-Americans have played in the
The local affiliate shares that mandate to be role models and
“Oftentimes we are invited to events, let’s say church events,”
says Shakur, the club’s historian. “We discuss the history of the
original Buffalo Soldiers and the motorcycle club with as much
pride as we can. We’ve gone to schools and discussed the history.
They are in awe. They’ve never heard it. This history, like much of
our history, has been left out of our history books.”
The patches on the vests often provide another opportunity to
talk about the Buffalo Soldiers when the group is out for a ride.
“It always sparks conversations,” Shakur says. “Some people have
come to us, say when we’re out to eat. They have offered to pay for
our lunch and engage in conversation. They want to know who are
these people, what are they about?”
Motorcycle clubs don’t always have the best reputation. Think
“biker” and a negative image might emerge. But much like their
original namesake, Wilmington’s Buffalo Soldiers have earned
In February, thousands of people lined the streets as Wilmington
native Antonio Moore returned home after being killed during a
rollover accident while serving with the U.S. Army in Syria. Lead-ing
the procession were the Buffalo Soldiers.
“We were approached by the family to escort his remains from
the airport to the funeral home,” Graham says. “We led from the
church to his final resting place. We have requests like that all the
time. It’s like Zulu says. People say, ‘who are you, we didn’t know
we had a Buffalo Soldiers club’. We go to schools and enlighten
people on who we are.”
Harry Taylor used a historic technique called wet plate collodion to make photographs of the Wilmington Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club at Fort
Fisher. The process originated in 1851 and was used to document the Civil War and much of the Western expansion. It requires a mobile darkroom,
seven chemicals and a large view camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. The processing of each plate requires seven minutes.