A military installation occupies rehearsal hall 4B on the fourth floor of theÂ Los Angeles Theatre Centre (LATC), where several “colored” soldiers from the 24th U.S. infantry, formerly known as Buffalo Soldiers, are going through drills, arranging their bunks, cleaning their weapons and flapping their jaws about their prowess with women.
Some of their discussion is about the disrespectful way they’re being treated by whiteÂ civilians in Houston, where they are bivouacked. They speak openly about how they mistakenly had the idea that joining the military would gain them a level of respect not afforded a colored civilian. They also talk about the daily battles they have to endure to maintain a modicum of dignity. Little did they know that on Aug. 23, 1917, they would become entrenched in a violent race riot that would result in the death of four soldiers and 16 civilians. After three courts-martial, 19 soldiers would be executed and another 41 would be given life sentences for their participation.