Seldom do we stand on formality or political correctness. Most times the fans of those forms of group-think use them to stifle voices and opinions that disagree with theirs.
However, a recently successful effort to change the racially insensitive and derogatory nickname of an eastern New Mexico landmark deserves loud applause.
The site, a dot of a hill near Lingo, along the Texas border in southern Roosevelt County, has been unofficially but widely known for generations as “Nigger Hill.”
How that hill came by that name is debatable and of little importance. What does matter is that an area resident recognized the name’s offensiveness and helped secure an honorable and official name for the site, which honors black Americans who have served in the U.S. military.
A ceremony to unveil a historical marker for “Buffalo Soldier Hill” is scheduled Saturday morning.
Bully for Oscar Robinson, the personnel director at Eastern New Mexico University who spearheaded the name change.
“If my grandkids found out there was a ‘Nigger Hill’ and I lived here, ah, man, I’d be rotting in my grave if I didn’t try to make a change,” he said.
No worry about that now, sir. Your grandchildren — and the generations beyond — will honor your salute to an honorable past framed by the sweat and blood of many black military veterans.
Buffalo Soldier Hill, which rises about 50 feet above the prairie, marks the end of a United States cavalry pursuit in which the mission was to drive Kwahada Comanche warriors to a reservation in Oklahoma. The 1877 mission failed and historians estimate about half the 25 to 40 black soldiers — known as Buffalo Soldiers — died during the 55-mile pursuit.
A Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Web site reports the men were called Buffalo Soldiers by American Indians “because of the soldiers’ strength and courage.”
Some white residents in the area have said they are not offended by the name “Nigger Hill,” that it’s simply a moniker passed down from pioneers and not intended to degrade anyone.
“They can change the name,” a woman told a reporter last week. “It will always be ‘Nigger Hill’ to us,” she said.
We respectfully suggest that should not be the case. The black veterans’ sacrifices should be honored for all time, not degraded by a bad old habit born of ignorance and disrespect.
Robinson said he will strike the term “Nigger Hill” from his copy of a county history book and write in “Buffalo Soldier Hill.”
“I can’t make everyone stop calling it ‘Nigger Hill,’ but I do have control of the book I own,” he said.
To bestow honor and respect will be the focus of Saturday’s ceremony, which will run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the hill, located 18 miles west of Morton, Texas, on Highway 114. Join Robinson and many others for this noteworthy occasion.