BY WALTER OPINDE
Born into slavery on 1st December, 1855, in Greensburg, Kentucky, George Buckner grew to become an African-American physician and diplomat; a U.S. Minister to Liberia between 1913 and 1915.
At the age of ten, Buckner was freed from slavery, after which he attended the Freedman’s School in Green County where he completed his basic education. He moved to Louisville in 1870 to stay with his aunt, shortly working there as a house servant before moving once again to the Green County to be a teacher. He trained as a teacher in Indiana at the Indiana State Normal School (currently, Indiana State University) in Terre Haute. While serving as a teacher, he further attended the Indiana Eclectic College where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Medicine in 1890.
Bucker became a staunch democrat who believed in the greatness of the political rewards for blacks in the party of Jackson, which he strongly believed could never take blacks for granted. He formed an alliance with white politician John Boehner, an outspoken opponent of the societal vices. As an active citizen, George was a trustee of Alexander Chapel AME church, thereby helping to establish the Cherry Street Black YMCA. Besides, he was one of the leaders of the United Brotherhood of Friendship.
Bucker worked as an editor at the Democrat Newspaper, editing the “Colored Folks” column. After being considered as the ‘Elder Black Statesman of Indiana,” George was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, a West African nation. Earlier, Mr. Buckner taught in Indiana and Kentucky for about 18 years before relocating to Monrovia, Liberia, after being appointed by the president. He served as the first African-American Diplomat appointed to a foreign country by the President. During his service in this role, he doubled up as American Consul General in Monrovia, Liberia.
Unfortunately, Buckner began experiencing a series of illnesses, such as fever, due to the climatic changes from the U.S. to the Tropical Climate of Liberia. He was thereby forced to resign due to health-related issues and returned to the U.S., settling in Evansville, Indianapolis. He proceeded with his professional medical practices and became a very active figure in the Civil Rights affairs. He was a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and played active roles in the Evansville Civic Affairs. As an important member of the Democrat Party, Buchner frequently involved in deep political discussions with his close friend, John Boehner, a Congressman.
At the age of 87, George Washington Bucker died on 17th February, 1943, in Evansville, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.
“Read more of the story from: nkaa.uky.edu/record.php?note_id=800”