Civil Rights

U.S. Army sets aside the convictions of Black soldiers from 1917 Houston Riots

Descendants of the soldiers who were convicted have been working to clear the names of their loved ones for decades.


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The presentation of flags at the Buffalo Soldier Museum. 110 officers were pardoned and honorably discharged after the 1917 Houston Riots.

The U.S. Army officially set aside the convictions of 110 Black soldiers at the Buffalo Soldiers Museum near Midtown.

The soldiers were previously convicted for participating in the 1917 Houston Riots.

"The United States had just entered the First World War. And Houston, Texas was governed by racist Jim Crow laws," Brigadier General Ronald D. Sullivan said.

The Brigadier General said the names of the soldiers who were convicted and a bell rang after each name in their honor during the event. The 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment was an all-Black Buffalo Soldier Regiment, according to the U.S. Army. Sullivan said they were assigned to guard the construction site that would become Camp Logan.

Patricia Ortiz/Houston Public Media
A bell was rung after each name was read.

"The soldiers came to town with patriotism in their hearts, ready to serve their country faithfully. But they were met with racist provocations and physical violence," he said.

According to the U.S. Army, the first set of soldiers convicted were executed in secrecy, and within a day of being convicted. Sullivan said the aftermath led to the establishment of due process for service members.

"That seemed to be the end of the story. The Houston incident had become a historical footnote for niche academics. But the story was very much alive for the descendants of the wrongfully executed and the wrongfully convicted," he said.

Jason Hold is a descendant of one of the soldiers and has worked toward clearing his uncle's name.

"I mean, the wheels of justice grind slow. It's only a hundred years. But it happened. The legacy of these soldiers, their patriotism, and service to our nation, protecting freedoms that they themselves could not enjoy, is being respected and uplifted," he said.

Congressman Al Green said the soldiers who were discharged have been upgraded to honorable.

Patricia Ortiz/Houston Public Media
The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum in Houston.

"The undersecretary was here today, who took it upon himself to announce... that the descendants of these men who were treated in a dishonorable way would receive benefits," he said.

Green said there are other injustices his office wants to correct. He said as an example, there is an African-American whose promotion was reclaimed once he was discovered to be an African-American.

"We still have more work to do. This is not the only circumstance, but this one will inspire us to correct some others," he said.

Patricia Ortiz

Patricia Ortiz


Patricia Ortiz is a daily reporter for News 88.7. Her work includes a variety of topics including transportation, technology, energy, immigration and education. Patricia graduated from the University of Houston in Fall 2022 with a Bachelor's in Journalism. She spent most of her college career at the university's literary magazine,...

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