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Cypress Hill Military Cemetery During Memorial Day

Source: NurPhoto / Getty

There’s a reason white conservative America is on a mission to control the narrative around American history, and, specifically, Black American history. White conservatives (and their adjacent-like Sens. Nikki Haley and Tim Scott) need desperately to be able to say that America isn’t a racist country. But once you start pulling at the threads of certain Black historical stories, that narrative immediately begins to unravel.

That being said, here’s a question: Why did it take 83 years for a Black veteran who was shot and killed by a white veteran to receive a military funeral?

On Sunday, the U.S. Army unveiled the tombstone of Pvt. Albert King during a full military funeral in a Georgia cemetery. Before Sunday, King’s remains were buried in an unmarked grave near the military base where he was killed in 1941.

From the New York Times:

Though Private King enlisted to fight in World War II, it was a fight with white bus drivers and soldiers on a segregated bus that cost him his life. After he escaped the bus and ran, the police officer found him, killed him and was exonerated in a sham military trial the same day.

An Army investigation initially found that Private King had died in the line of duty. But, under pressure from the commanding general at the base, Fort Benning, the investigators reversed their decision and determined that his death was a result of his own misconduct — making him ineligible for a military funeral. That was the official story, until three years ago.

Until. Three. Years. Ago.

If it wasn’t for a legal brief and investigative reporting conducted by three lawyers from the firm, Morgan Lewis, who are all veterans and worked pro bono to reveal the eight decades-old truth about King’s story, the Black man who fought for a country that clearly wouldn’t fight for him would still be buried in an unmarked grave, and his story would still be buried in an unmarked chapter of American history. But in 2021, those attorneys argued King’s case before the Army Board for Correction of Military Records, and in 2022, it was decided that King, indeed, died in the line of duty. Although, even that correction doesn’t really tell the whole story, does it?

Saying King died in the line of duty makes it sound like he was killed on the battlefield while serving his country when, in reality, he was shot and killed in cold blood by a white officer of the U.S. Army, Sgt. Robert Lummus, for no other reason outside of white men being upset because a Black man didn’t know his place. If a Black man being killed by American racism officially died in the line of duty, how exactly is America not a racist country?

Here’s what happened according to the investigative report published in the Washington Post.

On March 23, 1941, King left Fort Benning in full uniform and headed to Columbus, Georgia, to drink, dance and have fun with friends, including his girlfriend of four years and his friend, Pfc. Lawrence Hoover, at a place called the Cozy Spot. After his night out, around 3:30 a.m. the next morning, he got on a bus that had more white passengers than Black. According to the bus driver, he and his friends were “hollering and laughing and cutting up,” to the dismay of the driver and the white passengers, which led to a contentious back and forth that continued until the bus reached the gates of Fort Benning. What happened next is, well, exactly what one would imagine if one were familiar with how white egos respond to Black people who won’t submit to their Caucasian authority.

From the Post:

That’s when Sgt. Lummus, a White military police officer on night duty, rode up on his motorcycle and came onboard. The driver pointed out King. Both men were about 20 years old. Lummus told King to come to the front. King replied, “What do you want with me up there?”

The confrontation soon escalated. Lummus, who also was armed with a blackjack, swung it at King but missed, and Hoover spoke up for his friend: “Don’t hit him with your blackjack. I can keep him quiet.” When Lummus pulled out his .45-caliber service pistol, King and Hoover agreed to walk forward; White soldiers jumped up and closed in on them as they approached the front. King bolted out the front door and ran, disappearing into the dark and sprawling base grounds. Hoover jumped off the bus too, but Lummus hit him between the eyes with his blackjack in the melee, and four or five White soldiers came after him. Lummus caught Hoover in a ditch and then went off to get police transport.

Lummus then went after King and soon caught up with him—and shot him five times. 

The rest you can read on the Post, but what it boils down to is a racist white man backed by a racist white-run military that immediately crafted a story that would acquit the killer of manslaughter, not murder (which is what the charge should have been), and bury the story for eight decades.

“His name was stained, and we needed to cleanse that stain,” Rose Zoltek-Jick, a law professor at Northeastern University and associate director of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, told the Times.

It’s worth noting that this is only the Army’s latest effort to right its racially oppressive wrongs.

More from the Times:

It has renamed nine bases originally named for Confederate generals, including Fort Benning, now known as Fort Moore.

Last year, the Army overturned the convictions of 110 Black soldiers accused of rioting in Houston in 1917. Nineteen of them had been executed.

In 2021, it installed a memorial for Pvt. Felix Hall, who was lynched on Fort Benning about a month before Private King was killed.

How many more stories like these have yet to be unearthed? If the U.S. is not a racist country, how do these events happen in the first place, and why are they taking the better part of a century to half correct? (“Half” because white killers were allowed to die without ever being brought to justice. That ain’t really a correction.)

The post Black Army Soldier Killed By Exonerated White Army Cop Is Finally Given Full Military Funeral 83 Years Later appeared first on NewsOne.

Black Army Soldier Killed By Exonerated White Army Cop Is Finally Given Full Military Funeral 83 Years Later  was originally published on newsone.com