"Buffalo Soldier" was a term bestowed on African American cavalry members assigned to the western frontier. Boman spoke of being haunted by prejudice and sustained by prayers and dreams of a better life. In Yosemite, he said, he had found peace and beauty.
The church members leaned forward in their seats, hanging on every word. Some wiped tears from their eyes. "Amen!" one woman said.
When he finished, Johnson opened the floor to questions. Several women wanted to know why Yosemite guides were not required to include stories about the Buffalo Soldiers during the tours.
As they spoke, Hale quietly got up, walked to the hotel counter and asked for a complaint form.
"I was very dissatisfied with a tour guide who failed to mention any contribution made by Buffalo Soldiers during a 21/2 -hour tour of Yosemite Valley," she wrote, weighing her words carefully. "I am an African American woman from Los Angeles."
The next day, the group embarked on a guided excursion to Glacier Point.
"Guess what? That tour guide mentioned the Buffalo Soldiers," said Hale, who wouldn't trade her four days in Yosemite for anything. "Why do we care so much about this? It's a pride thing. The same kind of pride others feel when someone publicly praises the contributions of their ancestors."