Houston Has Its Own History of Race Riots

Categories: Houston 101

houston-riots.jpg
Wikimedia Commons
Murder trial after the Houston Riot of 1917.
As tear gas and rubber bullets flew on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, this week, I couldn't help but be thankful for the relatively peaceful streets of Houston. Sure, we have crime like most big cities and racial tensions do, at times, rise. For instance, when protesters took to the streets of River Oaks after the death of Trayvon Martin. Despite some concerns at the time about looting and violence, it was entirely peaceful. But, that hasn't always been the case.

In the past Houston has been marred by race riots--three in particular--that turned violent, resulting in injuries and deaths to civilians and police. With the civil unrest in Ferguson this week, it seemed like a good time to remind ourselves that Houston wasn't always such a quiet, diverse place.


Houston Riot (1917)

What we now call Memorial Park was once Camp Logan, a military encampment in the early 1900s. When police were involved in the beating of a black woman and a black solider from the camp, 156 soldiers, enraged by the actions of police, stole weapons and took to the streets of Houston in an armed conflict that left 20 people dead including four police, four soldiers and 12 civilians.

The unrest caused Martial Law to be declared in the city and the entire camp to be packed up and shipped out of Texas. It was the bloodiest riot in Houston history, culminating in the court martial and hanging of numerous soldiers involved in the incident.


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