August 23, 1917 - Racial tensions between African-American soldiers and white civilians led to the largest murder trial in U.S. history. A group of black soldiers in Houston became fed up with Jim Crow laws and continual harassment from whites. A gunfight broke out, leaving 17 dead. In the ensuing trial of 64 soldiers for murder and mutiny, 13 were sentenced to death and 40 to life imprisonment.
August 23, 1927 - Despite international protest, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed in Massachusetts. In the decades since, their case has come to symbolize the persecution faced by those who speak out on behalf of the working class. "If it had not been for this thing I might have lived my life among scorning men," Vanzetti said shortly before his death. "I might have died unmarked, a failure. This is our career and our triumph. Never in our full life could we hope to do such work for tolerance, for justice, for man's understanding of men, as we do now by accident. Our words -- our lives -- our pains -- nothing. The taking of our lives -- the lives of a good shoemaker and poor fish peddler -- all. This last moment belongs to us -- this last agony is our triumph."
For more on the Sacco and Vanzetti case, go to http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/SaccoV/SaccoV.htm and http://www.courttv.com/archive/greatesttrials/sacco.vanzetti/