The Army overturned the convictions of 110 Black soldiers charged with mutiny, assault and murder after the 1917 “Houston Riot” — a deadly fray spurred by racial tension in Jim Crow Texas that saw more than 100 troops march from their camp into the city after police pistol-whipped and shot at a Black corporal.
The ensuing trial was the largest in military history and resulted in more than 60 life sentences and 19 hangings of Black soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, for mutiny. An initial 13 of those hangings were the largest mass execution of American soldiers by the U.S. Army in its history.
In a ceremony Monday at the Buffalo Soldier Museum in Houston, Army officials said that, after historians found many “irregularities” in the way the charges were leveled, the convictions were vacated and the records of the service members will now reflect honorable discharges.
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Their descendants, some of whom were in attendance, may also be eligible for Department of Veterans Affairs benefits that were not afforded to those who were convicted.
“The Army has worked very hard throughout its history to acknowledge mistakes and to correct them to become a better institution,” Under Secretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo said Monday. “It's that ongoing process of learning and growth that brings us here today.”