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Another Event American History Books Don’t Mention …

July 27, 2008

Apology comes 64 years after black soldiers wrongly convicted in Seattle lynching

SEATTLE – More than six decades after 28 black soldiers were wrongly convicted after a riot and lynching of an Italian in Seattle, the US Army has issued a formal apology.

This 1944 newspaper sketch shows the soldiers on trial — the only time in US history a group of black men were tried for lynching a white man.

“We had not done right by these soldiers,” Ronald James, assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, said Saturday. “The Army is genuinely sorry. I am genuinely sorry.”

Relatives of the soldiers joined elected officials, military officers and one of the defense lawyers to hear James give the apology before hundreds of people in a meadow near the old Fort Lawton parade grounds and chapel in Discovery Park.

In addition the soldiers’ convictions were set aside, their dishonorable discharges were changed to honorable discharges and they and their survivors were awarded back pay for their time in the brig.

All but two of the soldiers are dead. One, Samuel Snow of Leesburg, Florida, planned to attend the ceremony but wound up in the hospital instead because of a problem with his pacemaker.

The convictions were overturned in October at the prodding of Rep. Jim McDermott, largely based on the book “On American Soil” published in 2005 by Jack Hamann, a CNN and PBS journalist, and his wife Leslie about the riot on the night of August 14, 1944, and subsequent events at Fort Lawton.

This is one of many events from America’s speckled past that are erased from memory, and especially history books. The Education policy makers are intent to teach America’s children the righteous superiority of America’s Christian Morals. The candy coated history fed to our children allow them to envision a distorted reality. Some of these children never emerge from this condition … thereby becoming part of a growing problem. Seeing the world as two dimensional creates flawed logic … does today’s education emphasize logic at all?

One sided vision gives birth to one sided arguments, flawed logic, and flawed decisions … this is great if someone is too lazy to consider all sides of an issue. This is terrible when deciding who should lead the country. Even in a court of law, there are two sides to every argument. One argument sets out to dismantle the other argument and convince the judge or jury how the law favors their side. Anger and confrontation seldom have a lasting positive effect on policy … but, courts of law ultimately brought “Equal Rights” back into the light of acceptance. Blacks, Hispanics, Orientals, and many sub groups of gender and sexuality in America have made more progress in Modern US Courtrooms than from decades of confrontation. Logic, reason and analysis needed for critical thinking are not taught or emphasized in today’s classroom (or home) and have rusted the minds of American students.  Being able to see the world and other humans without prejudice is essential to today’s survival.  We are a Global Community, dependent on each other.  There is no place for archaic bias or bigotry.

The overturning of this racial atrocity, even 64 years later, offers hope for thousands of those abused by a bigoted legal system. DNA testing has revealed the extent of wrongdoing by prosecutors over the years. The compensation for being wronged is very poor when compare to the SIX decades of suffering by these soldiers. Sad that only one survives. Black elders today still have memories that their grandchildren cannot relate to. Treatment of Black soldiers from both World Wars should be recognized as part of American History. Including American Indian genocide and other terrible deeds, black genocide in America was rampant.

Even though we have miles to go before true equality of opportunity is realized, some progress has been made. Once the doors of opportunity are finally opened, it is up to the individual to step through, get their education and actually use it to put distance between them and the nightmare their ancestors knew. Get your education and don’t look back … until its time to reflect on how far you’ve come.

  1. October 18, 2008 4:08 pm

    It’s about time!

  2. August 17, 2008 12:14 pm

    That discrimination attorneys link never got through 😉 let me try again… links: Discrimination Attorneys

  3. August 17, 2008 12:12 pm

    Well, I guess better late than never. I wish the courts would be more involved in these sorts of things – I am glad they adopted the strict scrutiny standard, but they have yet to apply that to past grievances, such as the one mentioned in this article. Also, I wish that we would learn from our historical lessons on how poorly we treat minorities. The cycle continues now, against gays and lesbians, immigrants, atheists, the list goes on. There are Discrimination Attorneys who fight these sorts of things, but, certainly, not nearly enough.

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