Army to Memorialize Black Soldier Lynched on Georgia Base 80 Years AgoBreaking News
tags: military history, lynching
Felix Hall was 18 years old when he left home in Millbrook, Ala., to join other young men preparing to serve in World War II. But instead of fighting in the Pacific, as his all-Black regiment would do with distinction, the Army private was abducted, bound at the hands and ankles, and lynched in a wooded ravine.
His killers were never brought to justice.
On Tuesday, more than 80 years after Hall’s death, officials at Fort Benning will unveil a memorial honoring his life and service, and formally acknowledge the act of racial violence that happened on base and under the Army’s watch. The memorial plaque — and its affirmation that this and similar crimes eventually moved President Harry S. Truman to desegregate the armed forces — will be placed at the site where Hall was last seen alive.
A separate marker will be installed in the woods where Hall’s corpse was discovered six weeks after his disappearance.
“To be lynched as you’re in service to the United States Army?” said Richard Liebert, a retired Army officer who trained at Fort Benning in the 1970s and ’80s. Liebert, who is White, has for the past five years pressed the Army to recognize this young soldier whose life was stolen from him — not by an enemy abroad, but by hatred at home. “It just goes right to the core of my being as so wrong,” he said, “and just so unjust.”
The dedication of Hall’s memorial comes as Fort Benning, one of 10 Army posts named after Confederate soldiers, remains a flash point in the broader national debate over America’s history of slavery and systemic racism; the military’s long, contentious embrace of such figures and symbols; and mounting pressure from lawmakers and others to rid its ranks of white supremacists. Congress has directed the Defense Department to rename these facilities by early 2024.
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