1941 lynching of Private Felix Hall acknowledged at Ft. Benning ceremony
COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - An executive order exists today, signed by President Truman, directs integration in the army. A death at Fort Benning, the lynching of a black man, played a significant role in that order coming to life.
On March 28, 1941, soldiers discovered a body at Fort Benning. Decomposing, the elements taking over, he was identified as Private Felix Hall.
Nineteen years young, he enlisted to defend his country, one that had treated him poorly at best, because it was the only option for a better life.
“Our country was struggling and often failing to uphold the equal protection under the law, let alone, the decency of respect and dignity for African-Americans as valued members of the human family,” said Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr.
“I wish that today felt like we were righting a wrong, but I know today what we are really doing is just acknowledging one,” said Ltg. Theodore D. Martin.
History notes that Private Hall was most likely walking to his home, the barracks, where he and the 24th Infantry Regiment lived on post. He never made it.
“Felix Hall was lynched. His hands and feet bound together and hanged by the neck, until he was dead,” Rep. Bishop added.
Lauren Hughes, a former staffer in Congressman Sanford Bishop’s office, led the charge to make sure that Private Hall received recognition. It culminated with the congressman delivering a speech on post at the last location where Private Hall was ever seen alive.
“The philosopher, George Santayana, reminds us that ‘those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’,” said Bishop. “This wound has been open for far too long, but thank God, today, we’re coming together to heal.”
Private Hall was originally from Millbrook, AL. His family that could be traced was notified about the ceremony.
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