The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The 24th:
A Film Worth Viewing

Feb 15, 2021

The 24th is a movie based on an event that happened in 1917. Like much of this country’s ugly history of racism, this story is often left out of the history books.

The 24th refers to the 24th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army, a regiment of black soldiers during World War I.

In World War I, just like World War II, the military was totally segregated. Black soldiers were rarely used in combat; they were mostly used for labor. The 24th was guarding the construction of a military camp, just outside Houston, Texas.

Even as soldiers, the black men of the 24th faced the same racist abuse, attacks and Jim Crow segregation. They were degraded by some of the white men building the camp, refusing them permission to drink out of the same water bucket. They were attacked, over and over, by racist Houston policemen. One soldier was beaten by the cops because he refused to sit in the back of a trolley car. The black soldiers were disrespected and beaten by one of their white officers who thought they were “inferior.” And the soldiers of the 24th saw the black residents of Houston suffer the same racist abuse.

Finally, the Houston cops shot and wounded another black soldier. The rest of his comrades believed he had been killed. The soldiers of the 24th grabbed their guns and marched into Houston.

They found some of the racist cops, killing five of them. The soldiers also shot and killed some white civilians and some white soldiers.

The army sent in white troops to arrest the black soldiers. While the white racist mobs who had been killing black people that summer were rarely even arrested, the black soldiers faced the ultimate punishment. They were tried for mutiny. Nineteen men were sentenced to death and were hung. Forty-one men were sentenced to life in prison.

In court, facing their death sentence, the black soldiers of the 24th proclaimed their dignity as men.

The 24th is a true reflection of U.S. history. It is a movie that is worth seeing.