In a historic decision, the U.S. Army has taken a significant step towards rectifying a century-old injustice by overturning the convictions of the soldiers known as the “Buffalo Soldiers.” These brave Black servicemen, 110 strong, part of the 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, had faced unfair trials and wrongful treatment due to their race during the Houston riots of 1917.
The Army’s Public Affairs office announced on Monday that it had approved the recommendation made by the Army Board for Correction of Military Records.
“After a thorough review, the Board has found that these Soldiers were wrongly treated because of their race and were not given fair trials,” said Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth. “By setting aside their convictions and granting honorable discharges, the Army is acknowledging past mistakes and setting the record straight.”
This decision will set aside the soldiers’ courts-martial convictions, allowing their military service records to be corrected and characterized as honorable.
The Buffalo Soldiers were tasked with guarding the construction of the Camp Logan training base in Houston in 1917, a time when racial tensions ran high and Jim Crow laws prevailed. Tragically, their mission led to a violent clash with white police officers and civilians on August 23, 1917, resulting in numerous convictions and executions, making it the “single largest mass execution of American soldiers by the Army.”
This long-overdue decision to rectify the injustice against the Buffalo Soldiers serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing commitment to justice and equality in the United States Armed Forces. It acknowledges the sacrifices and dedication of these servicemen who, despite facing adversity, proudly served their country with honor and valor.
“With the support of our experts, our dedicated Board members looked at each record carefully and came up with our best advice to Army leaders to correct a miscarriage of justice,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Review Boards Michael Mahoney, who oversaw the review. “We’re proud of the hard work we did to make things right in this case.”