- The Soldier, Pvt. Felix Hall, was last seen living in an all-white neighborhood in February 1941.
- The FBI has identified two suspects, but no one has ever been prosecuted for Hall’s death.
- Hall’s death was among the events that led then-president Harry Truman to desegregate the armed forces in 1948.
The U.S. military has unveiled a memorial to a black soldier who was found hanging from a tree at a military base in Georgia 80 years ago, a lynching case that remains unsolved.
The Soldier, Pvt. Felix Hall, was last seen living in an all-white neighborhood in February 1941, according to the Northeastern University Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project. A month after his disappearance, he was declared a deserter.
Hall was found in a wooded area at Fort Benning by a group of soldiers training in the area. His hands and feet were tied. He had managed to free his feet and his left hand but died with a noose around his neck. He was 19 years old.
Hall enlisted in August 1940 as an infantryman in the 24th Infantry Regiment at Fort Benning, according to Northeastern.
The military initially dismissed the hanging as suicide, according to the Northeast University project. After a doctor declared his death a homicide and the NAACP and other organizations demanded justice, the FBI launched a 17-month investigation.
Black soldiers told investigators Hall feared for his life after an argument with a white civilian foreman at a sawmill, who was angry. Hall refused to call him “sir”. The FBI has identified two suspects, but no one has been prosecuted, according to the draft.
“Although Pvt. Hall was taken from us decades ago, this wound has been open for far too long,” Representative Sanford Bishop, who represents Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District, said in a statement. “Thank goodness today we come to be healed.”
The marker recalls that racism is a “constant challenge,” Bishop said in the statement.
“We are training a new generation of soldiers who will be stronger to know Pvt. Hall,” he said. “They will be armed to face our enemies, whether they seek to tear us apart by bullets or by fanaticism.”
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Hall’s death was among the events that led President Harry Truman to desegregate the armed forces in 1948, the statement said.
“But we cannot be satisfied until we have a generation that fully represents all of our population, serving this country in uniform that can look at the marker that we are about to unveil, and say to itself, ‘Never again in my country, never again in my army, ”Lt. Gen. Theodore Martin, commanding general of the US Army Combined Arms Center, said in the statement.
During the marker unveiling on Tuesday, Martin told a crowd of onlookers: “I wish today we felt like we were righting a wrong, but I know what we are really doing is just recognize one. “