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Army base unveils historical marker honoring Black soldier who was lynched on base 80 years ago

Felix Hall marker
Posted at 3:05 PM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 15:05:39-04

Officials at Fort Benning, an Army base in Georgia, unveiled a new historical marker Tuesday honoring a Black soldier who was lynched on the base in 1941.

The new historical marker at the Columbus-area base honors Pvt. Felix Hall, whose body was found hanging in a ravine at the base on March 28, 1941.

The Army Times reports that Hall grew up in Alabama and joined the Army as the U.S. prepared to enter World War II. He went missing on Feb. 12, 1941, and was initially labeled a deserter.

It wasn't until over a month later that Hall's body was found. According to CNN, the killers suspended Hall between several trees. He died of asphyxia due to ropes around his neck.

The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University reports that the military initially tried to rule Hall's death a suicide. But the word of the killing leaked out, and the NAACP eventually spread Hall's story across the country.

The FBI investigated the case, but Hall's killers were never brought to justice.

According to the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, Hall is believed to be the only African American confirmed to have been lynched on a U.S. Army base.

Seven years after Hall's death, President Harry Truman ordered the military to be desegregated.

"Since then, as a nation, we have made incredible progress," said Lt. Gen. Theodore Martin at Tuesday's unveiling. "But we can't be satisfied until we have a generation that fully represents all elements of our population serving this country in uniform and that can look at the marker we will unveil and say to themselves, 'Never again in my country. Never again in my Army.'"

The Atlanta Constitution Journal reports that Fort Benning also plans to place a granite marker near where Hall's body was found.