Saturday, August 26, 2017

Echoes of Charlettsoville: One Hundred years back 13 Black Soldiers were Summarily Hanged

In 1917, the US entered the First World War. In the same year, a platoon of black soldiers was sent to Texas for military duty. The white supremacists, seeing black soldiers strutting about carrying rifles and guns were incensed. The soldiers were also angry at the blatant racial discrimination. One of the soldiers who was witness to the beating of a black woman intervened and was beaten-up and arrested. Another soldier who went to the police station to intercede was assaulted. The incensed black soldiers, collected and went to the police station. A gun battle led to 16 whites being shot dead.

The incident was treated as a mutiny and 63 blacks were court martialed. After a trial lasting 22 days, where the laws of evidence were studiously ignored and 63 defendants were represented by just one lawyer, 13 were sentenced to be hanged. There was no appeal or review and all 13 were summarily executed. The incident showed the hostility between blacks and white supremacists. The hangings were carried out en masse and all the 13 were brought in trucks to hastily erected scaffolds and summarily executed. No appeal, no clemency, no laws of evidence and no proper defense. The incident shook America but has anything changed?

The fact is there are too many blacks who will fight for their rights and the old days of white supremacy are over. The punishments and hangings without due process of law has echoes in the Charlottesville incident and show that the racial divide still exists though a hundred years have elapsed.

No comments:

Post a Comment