Who was Lieutenant Flipper? Was he a Martyr or a Myth?
· 19th Century: Lt Flipper was dismissed from the U.S. Army.
· 20th Century: Flipper was pardoned by President Clinton.
· 21st Century: Flipper’s “poor treatment” is called a myth.
Henry O. Flipper was not the first African American admitted to the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY. However, in 1877, Flipper became the first African American to graduate from West Point. Flipper was commissioned as a second lieutenant and assigned to the Tenth Regiment of United States Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers) at Fort Sill, Indian Territory.
In 1880, Lieutenant Flipper again distinguished himself in the war against Warm Springs Apache Chief Victorio. A year later, twenty-five-year-old Flipper was tried for embezzlement of government funds. He was dismissed from the army on 30 June 1882.
A new one-act play, “Lieutenant Flipper’s Trial” by Bob Rogers, dramatizes the fateful 1881 trial of Lieutenant Flipper. Was Flipper persecuted before he was prosecuted? Did Flipper destroy his career? Was he sabotaged? Was there a conspiracy? Was he dealt with fairly? You decide.
About the Play
Premiering at Baltimore’s prestigious Enoch Pratt Free Library during African American History Month in 2013, the play dramatizes Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper’s 1881 court-martial and draws audiences into the controversy about whether Flipper was treated fairly before, during, and after the trial. The voices of Flipper, the prosecutor, defense attorney, and new Buffalo Soldier music carry the play.
¨ The play casts Bob Rogers as Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper.
¨ KenYatta Rogers is the voice of Captains John W. Clous and Merritt L. Barber.
¨ KenYatta Rogers directs the play.
¨ Theme music: “Ballad of the Buffalo Soldier” is by Charley Waco/Buffalo Soldier.
Forty-three performances of the play, from Baltimore to Los Angeles, delighted audiences from 2013 until the finale in 2018 at Columbia, South Carolina.
The Play’s Bibliography
|________||Trial Transcript: U.S. v. Second Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper||US National Park Service||Fort Davis||1881|
|________||Second Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper||US National Park Service||Fort Davis||2013|
|________||Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper||US Army Center of Military History||Washington||2011|
|Black, Lowell D and Sara H.||An Officer and A Gentleman||The Lora Company||Dayton||1985|
|Cusic, Don||The Trials of Henry Flipper, First Black Graduate of West Point||McFarland||Jefferson||2008|
|Dinges, Bruce E.||Interview re: Henry O. Flipper Documents and Publications||Arizona State Historical Society||Tucson||2013|
|Harris, Theodore D.||Flipper, Henry Ossian||Oklahoma Historical Society||Oklahoma City||2007|
|Harris, Theodore D. (Editor)||Black Frontiersman: The Memoirs of Henry O. Flipper||Texas Christian University Press||Fort Worth||1997|
|Henry O. Flipper||The Colored Cadet at West Point||University of Nebraska Press||Lincoln||1878/1998|
|Robinson, Charles M. III||The Court-Martial of Lieutenant Henry Flipper||Texas Western Press||El Paso||1994|
|Robinson, Charles M. III||The Fall of a Black Army Officer: Racism and the Myth of Henry O. Flipper||University of Oklahoma Press||Norman||2008|
|Phillips, Thomas D.||Interview re: Flipper’s Military Records and Appeals, author: The Black Regulars||University of Oklahoma Press||Norman||2013/2001|
|Stein, Daniel A.||Film: The Trial of the Moke||Broadway Theatre Archive||New York||1978|
|Snead, G. Robert||Play/Film: Held in Trust||KCOS PBS and Warner Bros.||El Paso||1996|
|Johnson, Barry C.||Flipper’s Dismissal: The Ruin of Lt. Henry O. Flipper, U.S.A., First Coloured Graduate of West Point||English Westerners Society||London||1980|