Pvt. Albert King receives full military service, 83 years after his murder

More than eight decades after he was shot and killed by a white military police officer outside Fort Benning, Georgia, Private Albert King was honored in a full military service, March 24, 2024.

Sunday’s ceremony at Porterdale Cemetery, Columbus, GA. finally accorded Pvt. King the recognition he was denied so many decades ago, and included the unveiling of a new headstone, full military honors, and proclamations from the offices of Congressman Shri Thanedar (D-MI) and Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA).

The service was hosted by Helen Russell, Pvt. King’s surviving cousin, CRRJ and Morgan Lewis, and conducted by the Georgia Army National Guard Military Funeral Honors Program.

Congressman Sanford Bishop, Matt Hawes of the law firm Morgan Lewis, Mrs Russell and her daughter all addressed the crowd gathered to remember and honor Pvt. King. Especially moving were the remarks of CRRJ Associate Director and Professor Rose Zoltek-Jick, who worked for many years with CRRJ students to bring the case to public attention and then brought in lawyers from the firm Morgan Lewis to litigate the appeal to the Army. The 2-star general commander of Fort Moore and the Colonel garrison commander were also in attendance.

While returning to Fort Benning in the early hours of March 24, 1941, Pvt. King was shot five times — including once in the back — by Sgt. Robert Lummus, a white military police officer.

An initial determination by a review board of Army officers, shortly after the killing, ruled that his death did not occur in the line of duty, thereby tarnishing his name and memory, denying formal recognition of his Army service and forcing his burial off-base without military honors.

In late 2022, the Army Board for Correction of Records (ABCMR) changed Pvt. King’s official status, now certifying that he died “in the line of duty” and restoring to him the full honor of having served his country.

This significant and poignant day for the King family, was reported by The New York Times, and can be read in full here.

It follows years of investigation by CRRJ and pro bono lawyers at Morgan Lewis, themselves veterans.

For more information, search CRRJ’s archive.

Photo: Staff Sgt. Laurence Henderson presented the flag to Albert King’s descendants, with CRRJ Associate Director Rose Zoltek-Jick by their side. Photo by Alyssa Pointer, The New York Times.

Read more about King’s death in the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive

About the Archive

The Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive houses case files and documents for more than 1,000 cases of racial homicides in the Jim Crow South. Co-founded by Melissa Nobles, professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Margaret Burnham, CRRJ director and professor of law at Northeastern, these uncovered stories highlight how violence affected lives, defined legal rights and shaped politics between 1930 and 1954.

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