Military Officer, Deceased Person
1915 – 1964
Who was Lemuel Penn?
Lt. Col. Lemuel Augustus Penn was a decorated veteran of World War II and a United States Army Reserve officer who was murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan in 1964, nine days after passage of the Civil Rights Act.
Of African American descent, Lemuel Penn joined the Army Reserve from Howard University and served in World War II in New Guinea and the Philippines, earning a Bronze Star. At the time of his murder, Penn, 48, was the assistant superintendent of Washington, D.C. public schools and the father of two daughters and one son, Linda, 13, Sharon, 11, and Lemuel Jr., 5.
Penn was driving home, together with two other black Reserve officers, to Washington, D.C. from Fort Benning where they were on a summer camp. Their Chevrolet Biscayne was spotted by three white members of the United Klans of America - James Lackey, Cecil Myers and Howard Sims - who noted its D.C plates. "That must be one of President Johnson's boys.", Howard Sims, one of the white killers evidently motivated by racial hatred, said then. Klansmen followed the car with their Chevy II. "I'm going to kill me a n*gger," said Sims.
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