Thursday, December 08, 2005

Race Riot in Houston

How many of you knew that on August 23, 1917, a race riot erupted in Houston, TX?
During World War I, the War Department (now the Department of Defense) set up Camp Logan in what is today Memorial Park. The assignment to guard the construction of the camp was given to the 3rd Battalion of the 24th Infantry, an all-black regiment. These men were experienced soldiers who had seen combat. Unfortunately when they arrived in Houston they were viewed with hostility by the white population. Since Jim Crow was the rule of the day, the soldiers would find themselves discriminated against when they would come into the city on a pass. They were insulted by white citizens, they were forced to stand in the rear of street cars despite many empty seats in the 'whites only' section. A sheriff's deputy went as far to arrest a soldier for sitting in the whites only section. Another soldier was arrested for interfering with the arrest of a black woman by Houston Police. A Corporal, Charles Baltimore, inquired to a Houston Officer why his men were being arrested. For his inquiry, he got pistol whipped by the officer who even shot at the fleeing corporal as he fled. He ran into a shed where he was arrested, but eventually released.
Meanwhile, back at the camp, resentment at their treatment along with the false rumors that Corporal Baltimore had been killed and a white mob was marching upon the camp for a fight planted the seeds for a murderous rampage. A number of black soldiers then stole weapons and ammunition and under the leadership of Sgt. Vida Henry marched into the city of Houston, shooting at citizens and police. White citizens who stepped out of their homes to see what the commotion was were shot in cold blood. The soldiers also stumbled upon white police officers and shot them too. In the 2 hour riot, 5 Houston police officers along with 11 citizens (all white) were killed. Four of the soldiers, including Sgt. Henry were killed (2 of them accidentally by the rioters themselves). Officers Ira Raney and Rufus Daniels' bodies were hacked with the soldiers' bayonets after they were shot.
In the tribunal afterward, 110 soldiers were convicted on a variety of charges, 29 were given the death penalty, however only 19 were actually hung. The area of the slaughter that day is now along Center and Roy streets and San Felipe street. For a more detailed account of that day, go here.

For a history of Houston Police Officers killed in the line of duty going back to 1860, click here.

12 Comments:

Blogger jordan622 said...

Thanks for sharing the Camp Logan story. I've seen a Houston tv commercial advertising a movie/miniseries about Camp Logan. Do you know which network is airing this or when?

Friday, 27 January, 2006  
Blogger Jason said...

Unfortunately I don't. I didn't even know there was a miniseries. Well, I hope they accurately portray it in making everyone look like losers here and not try to look sympathetic towards rioting and murdering innocent people simply because you're angry.

Monday, 30 January, 2006  
Anonymous Mr. Dennis said...

I praise these soilders for defending their human rights. Like War, innocent will die. I am proud to be a Black Man in America.

Wednesday, 01 February, 2006  
Blogger Jason said...

Well Mr. Dennis nobody said you shouldn't be ashamed of who you are. However if you are of the mentality I suspect you are then you should rephrase your statement to say "I am proud to be a victicrat in America" because no rational person should condone murder regardless of race.

Monday, 06 February, 2006  
Blogger Jason said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Monday, 06 February, 2006  
Blogger Steven said...

Jason,
Your description of this event is one of the more complete I have seen posted on the Web. Some are more detailed and there are some slight discrepancies overall in the number of casualties as well as the number of court martial-ordered executions. What did you use for your source info?

I ran across references to the documentary film mentioned above ("Camp Logan" aka "Mutiny on the Bayou"; produced by KHOU-TV; directed by John Smith; narrated by Jerome Gray; 47 minutes) which was shown 20-Feb-2006 at the Brown Auditorium of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in collaboration with the Mayor's Office and KHOU-TV Channel 11. This showing was followed by a question and answer discussion with a panel that included the historians Garna Christian, Fred McGhee, and Angela Holder.

The OCLC/WorldCat listings for this documentary in Houston-area libraries is:
"Mutiny on the Bayou: The Camp Logan Story"
Visual Material: Videorecording: DVD Video
Publisher: Houston, Texas; KHOU-TV, 2006
Library holdings in the Houston area: HCC, South Texas College of Law Library, Harris County Public Library, Sam Houston State University

One posting related to this Museum of Fine Arts screening mentioned: "Much of the special is based on 5,000 pages of court testimony as well as the book “A Night of Violence” by Dr. Robert V. Haynes."

A Night of Violence: The Houston Riot of 1917
by Robert V. Haynes
Publisher: Lousiana State University Press, 1976
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
ISBN: 0807101729
(OCLC/WorldCat show this book is widely held in Houston area libraries)

The important issue this event brings up is that most references to this part of the Jim Crow era (i.e., the teens and early 1920s) usually focus on lynchings or the "Red Summer" and portray Afro-Americans primarily as victims. These soldiers who rioted had provided extensive military service to their country including the charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, service in the Philippines during the Philippine insurrection (a guerrilla war) after the US took possession of those islands from the Spanish, and the pursuit of Poncho Villa under "Black Jack" Pershing after the attack on Cimarron, New Mexico. My opinion is that most of the obscurity of this particular riot seems to stem from the fact that the majority of victims were white instead of black. I think both communities are uncomfortable with the level of violence shown as well as the underlying causes in relation to professed American values such as violence in defense of liberty, self-defense, manliness, civil order, overt racialist based political terrorism, etc.

Anyway, if you are interested I can send you a copy of the notes harvested from the web. I would also be interested in any bibliographical or related references you might be able to provide on this event.

Steven
Houston, Texas

Tuesday, 17 April, 2007  
Blogger GWW said...

If you strip out of all the narratives about this horrific event … that Negroes did it because they hated Jim Crow laws, or the prevalent racism of the South, and look at the event for what it truly was, a mutiny of Negroes… who went on a murderous rampage and with the sole intent to kill as many white people as they could.

As for what provoked them, I think using Jim Crow, or racism is likely not the cause for this mutiny. Why? Because the Negroes were only in Houston for 3 weeks. More likely , it was for the treatment a couple of soldiers had received at the hands of some Houston police officers. Apparently a Negro officer had a violent verbal exchange with a police officer over the arrest of another Negro soldier earlier in the day.. The Negro officer probably threatened the police officer, saying he’d bring back his fellow soldieries. This provoked the police to go after him and rough him up. When they released him, he was seething. He went back to camp and stirred up is comrades. (His name was Cpl. Baltimore. He was one of the 19 Negroes hung)

There was no excuse for this wonton slaughter of innocent people. Period. The reason I think contemporary history is written of this mutiny like you wrote it Jason, trying to justify it by actions of white people, is because the whole episode simply does not square with Negroes as victims in America. This was a violence racial rampage motivated by racial hatred. The Negroes were going to take out their anger on innocent, unarmed people. These Negroes were wearing military uniforms. The whole incident was very scary to the military at that time.

Monday, 19 January, 2009  
Blogger John said...

There's no excuse for using the phrase "Negroe" in 2009.

Period.

Friday, 01 May, 2009  
Blogger Mr. Rite said...

Umm, It's "Negro" or "Negroes", not "Negroe"

When referencing events prior to 1964, blacks should be referred to as “colored” or “Negro.” These two group appellations were the accepted designation, the nomenclature if you will, for as group that had not yet become “real” Americans. The Americans, pre ‘64, were the white males. When integration was created in 1964, then the term Negro or colored become less vogue. No one used “African American” or even “black” before 1964. So all events prior to 1964 where blacks are involved, blacks should be referred to as either “Negro” or “colored.” PERIOD.

The most credible source I found on those Camp Logan Negroes hung by the U.S. military is 13 - not 19.

The charge up San Juan Hill was almost 17 years prior, so it’s doubtful that very few if any of the Negroes that were among those 156 soldiers that marched out of Camp Logan - with the intent to kill as many Americans (white people) as possible - were actually still part of the Negro battalion in Houston (I could find no age description on those who were tried for this murderous, despicable and cowardly mutiny).

With regard to racial insults, there are also accounts black soldiers gave it back a much as they got it. (It seems, white people didn’t cotton to the idea of seeing black males in the same military uniforms as white soldiers. To white people, his violated their accepted living arrangements - separation of the races. ) When Great Britain went to war, Scots and Brits, though they fought together, wore separate uniforms. Scots DEMANDED their distinctness. What race DEMANDS to be integrated into another race?

This was a racial slaughter, pure and simple. No excuse and no sugar-coating should be done with such outrageous and craven act on the part of these Negro soldiers!

Plessy was the accepted law of the land. To white people, and probably most blacks too, black and white people were no different than two SEPARATE, DISTINCT Indian tribes. No one would accept the idea that two different Indian tribes should be forcibly integrated. Right? Don't judge people 80 years ago using today's standards. Other than the white liberals who created the NAACP, no one else in the white community would accept such a radical and unprecedented idea of integrating TWO different races - by force.
Every white male knew our Founding Fathers never intended to use the legislative system in such an abusive way.

Sunday, 28 June, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do I GET TRIAL RECORDS FROM FT SAM HOUSTON????

THANKS

Friday, 19 February, 2010  
Blogger tony said...

Hi Jason what you said to Mr Dennis is true killing a person is a tabu, but you have to know every since our parent, parents x 4 was brought to the U.S. to put it bluntly i believe if we left alone in Africa we would be happy some what, not to be mistreated by someone else because of race, it's sad really, be honest, you may be clever Jason but you still don't see the big piture.

Sunday, 30 June, 2013  
Blogger tony said...

Hi Tony you hit the nail on the head, and back then white folks were mean and nasty and evil and need i say more, and true if black
folks were left in Africa they would prospere, black folks didn't
have to put up with the mistreatment and talking about the bible we weren't cursed that's
bunk, so get over yourself and if you don't like us stay away from us.

Sunday, 09 February, 2014  

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