'Empire' star featured in movie based on 1917 Houston riot

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Tuesday, August 11, 2020
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MOMENT IN HISTORY: Camp Logan carries significant history for Black Houstonians, but also the stigma of one of Houston's darkest days. Opening in 1915, Camp Logan served as a World War I training camp for Black troops. But in 1917, people witnesses a violent racial riot at the site, a shameful episode that still haunts people in Houston.

HOUSTON, Texas -- A new film titled "The 24th," which is based on the 1917 Houston riots in which Black soldiers confronted Jim Crow-era racism and Houston law enforcement, has a new trailer out ahead of an August debut.

The trailer, released Aug. 5, opens with soldiers in formation at the site of Camp Logan, a World War I-era training camp that was then located in the outskirts of Houston. Today, it largely falls within Memorial Park.

The film's title is a nod to the 24th Infantry, an all-Black unit that was assigned to guard the construction of the camp, according to a Houston Heritage Society account of the history.

The film centers around the events of Aug. 23, 1917, a violent race riot set off by rumors that a Black soldier had been killed by Houston police officers.

When the dust settled, four soldiers, five police officers and 11 others had died, according to the Heritage society.

It subsequently resulted in the largest murder trial and court martial in U.S. history, with nearly 10 soldiers put to death and more than 60 others sentenced to life imprisonment, despite limited evidence that all of the soldiers participated, according to historians.

"The 24th" will release to the public in theaters and video-on-demand platforms on Aug. 21, distributed by Vertical Entertainment. Oscar-winning "BlacKkKlansman" writer Kevin Willmott wrote, directed and produced the film.

"Empire" actor Trai Byers co-wrote and stars in the film as well. Despite its ties to Houston, "The 24th" was filmed in North Carolina, according to IMDB.com.

The film was originally slated to be unveiled at South by Southwest Conference & Festivals, which was canceled this year.