That night’s two hours of violence left nine civilians, four policemen and two soldiers dead. It resulted in the largest murder trial in U.S. history in which 110 out of 118 soldiers were found guilty. Nineteen were hanged.
The riot was incited by an incident between an African American woman and the police, and their subsequent beating of one of the soldiers. But it wasn’t just that day that sparked the violence. As is most often the case with major eruptions, tensions had been brewing and indignities accumulating for some time between the African American regiment and the white police force.
The white police in Houston in 1917 not only did not see the uniformed soldiers as equals but were offended by their very existence — never mind the courageous history of African American troops throughout U.S. history to that point.
It’s this story that’s told in writer-director Kevin Willmott’s “ The 24th,” a blisteringly relevant and important look at an under-explored chapter in our history.
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