These adventuresome black men used the military to avoid the overt racism experienced by the general black population. They thought that their glorious and victorious performance during the Indian Wars would win them equitable treatment and had no hesitation in joining the Cuban expedition. I found the roster of the nine companies of the Ninth United States Volunteer Infantry listed on a Spanish-American War website. I searched the list of 984 men. Private Johnny Sanders, my grand-uncle, was listed in company “M” of the Ninth Regiment.
This was how I found out why my grandmother, who wanted to be buried next to her brother, had admired him so much. He was a soldier and a man of honor among men of honor, and he must have embodied the best of the company he kept.