Roman Ducksworth Jr. (1934 – April 9, 1962) was an African-American military police officer, shot and killed as a hate crime by Taylorsville, Mississippi police as he was heading to the hospital expecting his sixth child.
He was a military police officer stationed in Maryland, ten years short of finishing ten years service in the army. During his time in service he would send gifts home to his kids. Roman had a wife and six kids, one of which was born right after his death.
Death and after
On April 9, 1962 Roman was traveling to a hospital to visit his sick wife and newborn child. He was sleeping on the bus when police escorted him off due to his race and mistaking him as a freedom rider. A small tussle broke out, the officer drew his gun, and fired into Ducksworths chest. Romans sister-in-law and her son were there as he was pronounced dead on the scene.
Initial court proceedings attempted to label Roman as drunk, and the murder as self-defence. The murder was ruled a 'justifiable homicide', and no further justice has been taken upon the case ever since. As a result of the killing, Odell Ducksworth would lose his job at a laundromat a few days later. Following that a cross was seen burning across his street and Odell's family was forced to relocate.
Upon his death Ducksworth received full military honors and a 16-gun salute. Roughly two thousand towns members attended his funeral.
In 1989, the Southern Poverty Law Center has commemorated Roman Ducksworth as a civil rights martyr on a memorial designed by Maya Lin.