In the News

83 Years After His Killing, a Black Soldier Gets an Army Funeral, The New York Times

Sunday, March 24, 2024

This New York Times article features the story of Private Albert King and the pro bono team at Morgan Lewis that helped restore justice by advocating on behalf of the deceased Black soldier’s only living relative to reinstate the original decision by the US Army that Private King died in the line of duty.

While returning to Fort Benning on March 24, 1941, Pvt. King was shot dead by a white military police officer. In contravention of the facts and an initial determination by a review board of Army officers shortly after the killing, Pvt. King’s death was characterized as not having occurred in the line of duty, thereby tarnishing his name and memory by denying formal recognition of his Army service and forcing his burial off-base without military honors.

In 2021, the facts of the case came to light in a legal brief and investigative reporting. Working with Northeastern Law’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ), partner Matthew Hawes and associates Micah Jones and Christopher Melendez argued that the Army Board for Correction of Military Records should reinstate the original decision that Pvt. King died in the line of duty. In 2022 the decision was reinstated, and on Sunday, March 24, Pvt. King was commemorated with a new headstone and full military honors.

“None of this would’ve been possible if not for the Board of Officers’ action back in ’41, which really documented what happened at the time,” Christopher said in the article. “It was the witnesses who spoke before the board. It was Judge Hastie,” he added, referring to William Hastie, a Black civilian aide in the War Department and the country’s first Black federal judge, who advocated that the original ruling on the line-of-duty determination of Pvt. King’s death be reinstated.

Read the full New York Times article >>
Subscription may be required.