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South Texas College of Law Houston Helps Restore Honor to 110 Camp Logan U.S. Army Soldiers

Home Law School News South Texas College of Law Houston Helps Restore Honor to 110 Camp Logan U.S. Army Soldiers
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More than a century ago, due process was denied to 110 Black U.S. Army soldiers — soldiers who were willing to defend their country, but who nonetheless had no voice in their own defense.

In October 2020 and December 2021, South Texas College of Law Houston — with the help of several professors and numerous law-student researchers — petitioned the U.S. Army requesting a review of the courts-martial convicting the soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment (also known as the Buffalo Soldiers).

This month, the Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth approved the recommendation of the Army Board for Correction of Military Records to set aside all the courts-martial convictions. The records of each soldier will be corrected to indicate that each received an honorable discharge, and survivor benefits will be afforded to their descendants.

During the ceremony restoring these soldiers to honor Monday, South Texas College of Law Houston was credited for the important role it played in helping achieve this historic and groundbreaking result.

“I am very proud that South Texas played such a significant part in helping to correct this terrible wrong,” said South Texas Law President and Dean Michael F. Barry. “Former South Texas Professors Geoffrey Corn and Dru Brenner-Beck — with the support of VP and Associate Dean Cathy Burnett and numerous students (now alumni) — dedicated themselves to this fight for justice.”

The Houston Riots took place Aug. 23, 1917, following months of racial provocations against members of the 24th — including the violent arrest and assault of two Black soldiers. Following the assaults, and amid rumors of additional threats to soldiers, a group of more than 100 Black soldiers seized weapons and marched into the city, where clashes erupted. The violence left 19 people dead.

In the months that followed, the Army convicted 110 Soldiers in a process that was characterized by numerous and substantial irregularities — including that the individual representing the accused soldiers was not a licensed attorney. Thirteen of the convicted men were immediately executed in the largest mass execution of American soldiers by the U.S. Army; six more were executed in the following weeks.

Through South Texas College of Law Houston’s Actual Innocence Clinic, dozens of students worked on research for the petition for clemency over a two-year period. The clinic course was Dean Burnett and Dru Brenner-Beck.

Dean Burnett said, “This project was very important to all the students who worked on it, and they spent hours and hours researching the situations of individual soldiers. Some of the students were veterans, and their nuanced understanding of military culture definitely contributed to their research efforts.”

The entire PowerPoint presentation created by Ashley Cromika ’21, now a Houston attorney with Garate & Associates, was included in the addendum of the clemency petition. Cromika took the Actual Innocence Clinic course in fall 2020 and became so intensely interested in the project that she requested to do supervised research with Dean Burnett in spring 2021.

“This is something so near and dear to me,” Cromika said. “It’s hard to talk about it without crying. Some of the soldiers wrote letters to their families that didn’t arrive until after their son had been executed. We wanted to do anything we could to help all those men get justice. I am proud I got to be part of it.”

Numerous local and national media outlets have covered the story, and the story continues to gain momentum. Here are just a few of the story links:

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