Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.
The son of slaves and a World War I veteran, Edgar G. Brown was a frequent visitor to Los Angeles gathering support for various issues, such as the anti-lynching law. He urged blacks to increase productivity rather than protests during the Korean War, but also called on President Eisenhower to appoint a black Cabinet member.
Brown visited Los Angeles in 1950 to gather signatures on petitions seeking to prevent the execution of Army Lt. Leon A. Gilbert of the 24th Infantry Regiment.
Gilbert, a 10-year veteran who had been an officer for four years, was court-martialed and sentenced to death for refusing to lead his black troops on what he considered a suicide mission. Brown said he hoped to gather 50,000 signatures on petitions urging President Truman to spare Gilbert’s life.
Truman commuted Gilbert’s sentence to 20 years at hard labor on Nov. 27, 1950. He was apparently released after five years and the Army reinvestigated the incident in 1996.
On June 13, 2005, the U.S. Senate issued an apology for failing to pass an anti-lynching law.