Monday, August 21, 2006

On the eve of violence

Relations between black soldiers stationed at Camp Logan and Houstonians (especially the police) were at a breaking point.

Earlier, two black soldiers were arrested for staying out past curfew. On Aug. 21, 1917, the Houston Press reported that a black soldier boarded a streetcar on Washington Avenue and seated himself in front of a white woman.

"When the conductor asked him to observe the Jim Crow law, he pulled a dagger," the paper reported.

The man was arrested by a deputy sheriff, according to the newspaper.

The paper also reported that 3,000 black soldiers would be stationed at Camp Logan. In light of the recent incident, Harris County District Attorney John Crooker allegedly "appealed to voters to rid the town of liquor before these negroes arrive."

Crooker was more than likely siding with the prohibition movement that was in full swing at the time. Numerous news articles were dedicated to the prohibition (pros) and anti-prohibition (antis) movements.

In that same edition of the Houston Press, an anti-prohibition band stirred up a little controversy during a performance at Main Street and Preston Avenue.

"Women with prohibition banners surrounded the musicians. The band quit playing and immediately retired to the Musicians' Club rooms," the paper reported.

But the band played on. A short time later, the band was seen playing on the balcony of the Rice Hotel.

"They gathered below the balcony...and had the band quit playing because it was calling attention to the good women with their banners," the paper continued.

And the band played on again.

"Still later, the women again discovered the band in front of the Rice and surrounded it. This time, the musicians took shelter in the Rice bar. The women picketed the place and the bandsmen left the saloon one at a time."



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