Mending History: Stories of Long-Awaited Justice For People of Color
All across the country advocates are working to right the wrongs of U.S. history - here are the ways in which they have succeeded
If there’s one thing the history books never teach, it’s stories of Black people uniting to fight for our civil rights.
There’s a reason Malcolm X was rarely mentioned in my school books, and when he was it was only in stark contrast to the peaceful protests of Martin Luther King - making him akin to some sort of villain. There’s also a reason the name Nat Turner was never uttered in my classrooms, despite the fact that he led one of the largest revolts of enslaved people in world history.
Perhaps they feared that by showing us the heroes that have always existed, the ones that refused to lay down and accept the injustices forced upon them - we would follow their lead.
Regardless, in the age of the internet, it is impossible to keep the rich history of Black freedom fighters buried. Every day I stumble upon a story of communities of color fighting for long-awaited reparations and winning. These individual battles may seem small, but they quickly accumulate towards giving POC the justice they should have been granted decades ago.
As members of a marginalized community, it can feel as if we are always fighting for or against something with no end in sight. But it is important to recognize these valiant efforts and to celebrate the victories, however sparingly they come.
Here is the story of an ongoing fight to mend a small portion of this country's torrid racial history, the first of many to be highlighted by The North Star.
One of the largest, and most underrepresented, cases in civil rights history is being brought back to court as a group of advocates fights for the long-deserved outcome. The Houston Riot of 1917 was a response to the growing racial tensions in Jim Crow era Houston between the white police force and a Black battalion of World War I soldiers stationed in the city. The clash resulted in the deaths of 4 Black soldiers, 5 white police officers, and 15 white civilians.
The trial that followed remains the largest murder trial in U.S. history.
It ended in the execution of 19 Black soldiers, and lengthy prison sentences for the rest of the men, despite the fact that the white police and civilians of the town were also responsible for the tragic deaths.
Over a century later, a group of attorneys and advocates are working with the NAACP in seeking clemency for the 110 men of the all-Black Third Battalion of the U.S. Army’s 24th Infantry Regiment. They are working to posthumously grant pardons and reverse the dishonorable discharges of the men.
Nothing can bring back the lives that were taken or ease the trauma that echoed far beyond the 110 men through the lives and their families, friends, and communities.
But 104 years later, there is still much healing to be done, healing that will ripple to the future by setting a precedent for how to deal with this country's complicated racial past.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kendi is currently a student at New York University and is the author of multiple award-winning poems, short stories, stage, and screenplays.