Army Bases That Honor Confederate Traitors Could Soon Be Renamed for These Heroes

By Chris Cameron, New York Times

The names “embody the best of the United States Army and America,” a commission established by Congress wrote in announcing its choices.

Fort Bragg is among the Army bases that may soon be renamed (Kenny Holston for The New York Times)

During the Jim Crow era, nine Southern Army bases were named for treasonous Confederate generals who fought to preserve slavery and white supremacy. Now a commission established by Congress has suggested new names for the bases that “embody the best of the United States Army and America.”

Fort Bragg in North Carolina would be renamed Fort Liberty, if the recommendations are approved by Congress. The other bases would honor some of the Army’s most distinguished heroes. These are their stories:

Pvt. Henry Johnson deployed to Europe during World War I in a storied Black regiment known as the Harlem Hellfighters. The U.S. armed forces were segregated, and the Hellfighters were not allowed to fight on the front lines with other American troops. Instead, the Black soldiers fought under the command of their French allies.

That put Private Johnson and his unit at the front lines, “against all odds — Black Americans wearing French uniforms,” in the predawn hours of May 15, 1918, as German troops swarmed his sentry post at the edge of the Argonne Forest, according to a biography provided by the naming commission.

Private Johnson threw grenades until he had no more left to throw. Then he fired his rifle until it jammed. Then he clubbed enemy soldiers with the butt of his rifle until it split apart. Then he hacked away at the enemy with his bolo knife.

After the Germans retreated, daylight revealed that Private Johnson had killed four enemy soldiers and wounded an estimated 10 to 20. He suffered 21 wounds in combat.

Read about the soldiers whos sacrifices may be honored.

In recognition of the trauma Black Americans experience that stems from racism, streets and schools have been renamed and statutes replaced.

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