For the week of Dec. 11-17
1917—Thirteen Black soldiers were hanged for their participation in the so-called Houston riot. The “riot” had occurred in August of 1917 when Whites objected to the presence of Black soldiers in the city. Racist insults and mistreatment began. Then a Black soldier intervenes in the arrest of a Black woman. A Black corporal inquires with the police about the arrest of the soldier. A fight breaks out between the corporal and the police. A rumor spreads that a White mob was marching on the Black camp. Roughly 100 Black soldiers grabbed rifles and marched onto downtown Houston. Within two hours they had killed 15 Whites including four police officers. They returned to camp but military officials pressured seven soldiers to snitch on the others. Their snitching resulted in the convictions and hangings of 13 Black soldiers.
1917—The Great Jazz Migration begins when noted musician Joe “King” Oliver leaves New Orleans, La., and settles in Chicago, Ill. He is soon joined by other early Jazz greats. Their presence in Chicago laid the foundation for the Southern Black music genre (with heavy sexual overtones) to become a national obsession. Actually, the “migration” may not have been quite so romantic. Instead of being forced by the closing of the New Orleans Storyville district, Jazz greats probably left New Orleans for Chicago for the same reason other Blacks left the South–failing crops forced the disappearance of jobs while Northern factories recruited Blacks for work to produce arms and other goods for World War I. Nevertheless, many historians view Oliver’s relocation to Chicago as the start of New Orleans Jazz migrating to the rest of the nation.