The Hidden Segregation of Military Executions During the Civil Rights MovementBreaking News
tags: racism, military history, segregation, civil rights movement
The knotted rope and the fire hose, the lunch counter and the poll tax — the most notorious aspects of America’s ignominious record on race are well known, but they are not the whole story. One chapter has remained largely hidden for decades: how the United States Army, during the early years of the civil rights movement, dealt with the crucible issues of race and capital punishment. Not well, it turns out.
In the years between 1955 and 1960, all eight white soldiers who were condemned to death, each of them a murderer, saw their sentences commuted by the Eisenhower Administration, the federal courts or the Army itself. Eventually they all won parole too, and returned home to the embrace of their families and loved ones.
In contrast, the eight convicted murderers who were hanged by the military — summoned from death row cells in the sub-basement of Fort Leavenworth, Kans., and marched to the top of a wooden gallows — were all black.
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