AUSTIN, Texas — Camille A. Buffalo, a senior in Virginia Gallegos’ class at William H. Taft High School in San Antonio, won first place for the second consecutive year at the Third Annual Barbara Jordan Historical Essay Competition for her essay titled, “The Buffalo Soldiers: Trailblazers of Texas and the Western Frontier.” Buffalo received $2,500 and a gold commemorative trophy at an awards ceremony Friday (April 17) at The University of Texas at Austin.
“Camille’s essay chronicled the exploits of the 9th and 10th U.S. Calvary and the work of the San Antonio Buffalo Soldiers Association, and was impressive from both the amount of research she conducted as well as the writing ability she displayed,” said Terry Wilson, associate director of UT Austin’s Office of Public Affairs and the organizer of the competition.
San Antonio’s William H. Taft High School also produced the second-place winner, Maile Malanchuck, who is a junior in Dr. Sarah Holden’s class. Maile won $1,500 and received a silver commemorative trophy for her essay titled, “Bessie Coleman: The Skies are not Segregated,” which reconstructs the historic efforts of Bessie Coleman, who earned fame and worldwide recognition for becoming the first African American to receive an international flying license.
Third prize, $1,000 and a bronze commemorative trophy, was awarded to Kristina Bicking, a junior in Kathy Favor’s class at Robert E. Lee High School in Midland, Texas, for her essay titled, “One Last Look,” which explores the integration of the Midland Independent School District.
The Barbara Jordan Historical Essay Competition, sponsored by the Office of the President at UT Austin, is open to all high school students in grades nine through 12 and encourages students to research and write 1,500 to 2,500 word essays related to the theme of the competition, “The African-American in Texas: Past and Present.”
“The University of Texas is especially privileged to sponsor these awards because of our long and very fond association with the late Barbara Jordan. It is appropriate that we honor her memory by encouraging young scholars to explore and interpret the rich history of the African American in Texas. These stories contribute to a more complete understanding of the wide and complex social fabric of our state,” said Larry Faulkner, president of UT Austin.
Buffalo, Malanchuck and Bicking were among 24 high school students representing eight regions throughout Texas who gathered as competition finalists at the University’s Center for American History. Each regional finalist was awarded a medallion bearing the likeness of the late Hon. Barbara Jordan and received certificates acknowledging that their essays are permanently archived at UT Austin’s Center for American History.