How can America hold up its hands
in hypocritical horror at foreign barbarism
while the red blood of the Negro
is clinging to those hands?
-Hubert H. Harrison
Hellraisers Journal, Wednesday January 9, 1918
“One law for the white man…and another for the black man.”
From The Messenger of January 1918:
THE HANGING OF THE NEGRO SOLDIERS
The hanging of thirteen Negro soldiers for the shooting up in Houston, Texas, a few months ago marks the acme of national indiscretion, on the one hand, and the triumph of Southern race prejudice, on the other. THE MESSENGER is not prepared to pass upon the guilt or innocence of the colored men, but, for the sake of argument, we shall assume their guilt. We shall next proceed to compare the punishment of the Negro soldiers with other soldiers guilty of similar or greater offenses. And if we find that the punishment of the black soldiers has been harsher, sterner and more merciless than that meted out to the other races, we shall seek to find out what the cause of the difference was.
Briefly to compare. On the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of July in East St. Louis, white troops from Illinois in broad daylight, under the eyes of tens of thousands of people, shot, wounded and killed over one hundred Negroes without any reasonable or apparent provocation from the Negroes of East St. Louis. It was the most disgraceful and unabashed exhibition of mob violence ever known in the United States. Evidence against the soldiers was not circumstantial, but direct. It was also overwhelming and abundant. Yet in spite of the brazen, unmitigated contempt for the law, no white soldier was even apprehended or tried.