They Refused To Accept Imprisonment Abroad, Starting An Uprising Instead

fences at the long binh jail
Zain Murdock
September 21, 2022

In 1966, "Project 100,000" sent over 400,000 new soldiers to war in Vietnam. 40% of them were Black - including teenager Jimmie Childress, who’d been given the choice to go to prison for theft, or go to war. 

Childress became one of the hundreds crammed into Long Binh Jail - a notorious military prison.

Black soldiers made up only 11% of soldiers in Vietnam overall but were more than HALF of those incarcerated at Long Binh. Like Childress, most got caught escaping to live underground.

Racial tensions boiled when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Soldiers were held naked in 100-degree shipping containers. 

"We were hot, and crazy, we were fed up," Childress remembered. "So we decided, we're going to tear this M***F*** down."

On August 29, 1968, incarcerated soldiers overthrew prison guards with makeshift weapons and bare hands. They lit records on fire, ate cake, and freed each other from cells. The military lied to reporters that the revolt was over, but it wasn't until late September that armed police stopped it for good.

"I was just trying to prove that I was a human being," said Childress.

This uprising reminds us that the military and criminal legal systems have ALWAYS dehumanized us. "Citizens," "foreigners," in the U.S. and abroad. And we have the right to liberate ourselves.

We have a quick favor to ask:

PushBlack is a nonprofit dedicated to raising up Black voices. We are a small team but we have an outsized impact:

  • We reach tens of millions of people with our BLACK NEWS & HISTORY STORIES every year.
  • We fight for CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM to protect our community.
  • We run VOTING CAMPAIGNS that reach over 10 million African-Americans across the country.

And as a nonprofit, we rely on small donations from subscribers like you.

With as little as $5 a month, you can help PushBlack raise up Black voices. It only takes a minute, so will you please ?

Share This Article: