Our fall Library Associates Reading featured Ivan J. Houston. He discussed his recent book Black Warriors: The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II with a full house in attendance. Black Warriors is based on Mr. Houston’s experiences in World War II’s first all-black combat infantry regiment, the 370th of the segretated 92nd Infantry Division, also know as the Buffalo Soldiers, on which Spike Lee’s film, Miracle at St. Anna, was based.
Mr. Houston, the great-grandson of former slaves and free African Americans, is a Los Angeles native and a graduate of UC Berkeley. His family co-founded Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, one of the largest historical Black-owned companies in the coutnry, and his paternal great-grandfather, William Lloyd Garrison Jackson, was one of the first African Americans to register to vote in California in 1870. The Library received the archives of Golden State Mutual Life Insurance company in 1986.
Mr. Houston added to his family’s pioneering legacy through his assignment in the Army’s first all-black combat infantry unit, that lead to his receipt of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Infantry’s Badge, and three Battle Stars.
An impressive individual, Houston went on to have a successful business career as President and CEO of Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company. He was named one of Harvard Business Leaders of the 20th Century, inducted in UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business Hall of Fame,and listed in Ebony Magaine’s “100 Most Influential Black Americans” list for fourteen consectuve years, from 1976 to 1990.
His reading focussed on his personal journey as a soldier and the odyssey of his 3rd Battalion of Combat Team 370 with 4,000 mean in Italy. Their mission was to break through the Nazis’ infamous 170 mile “Gothic Line” and defeat the Germans. After nine months of fighting, Houston and his men were successful in defeating the Germans and breaking throught the “Gothic Line.”
The presence of Buffalo Soldiers from World War II, the Korean and Viet Nam wars added to the evening.
Buffalo soldiers join Ivan Houston and Gary Strong after the event. Mr. Houston is to my left.
The Ivan Houston talk is now posted onto UCLA on YouTube:
The direct link to the video is here: