“…it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country’s defense..”
Executive Order 9981, July 26, 1948, in which President Harry S. Truman bans the segregation of the Armed Forces
As one of several actions taken to meet the recommendations of the President’s Commission on Civil Rights, President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order on July 26, 1948, abolishing segregation in the armed forces and ordering full integration of all the services. Executive Order 9981 stated that “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” The order also established an advisory committee to examine the rules, practices, and procedures of the armed services and recommend ways to make desegregation a reality. There was considerable resistance to the executive order from the military, but by the end of the Korean conflict, almost all the military was integrated.
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If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he cannot send his children to the best public school available, if he cannot vote for the public officials who represent him, if, in short, he cannot enjoy the full and free life which all of us want, then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place? Who among us would then be content with the counsels of patience and delay?
"…the presence of Alabama National Guardsmen was required on the University of Alabama campus to carry out the final and unequivocal order of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Alabama. That order called for the admission of two clearly qualified young Alabama residents who happened to have been born Negro."
Draft of the President John F. Kennedy’s civil rights speech on June 11, 1963, written by Theodore S. Sorensen with notes by Robert F. Kennedy, following Alabama Governor George Wallace’s refusal to admit two African American applicants to the University of Alabama, James Hood and Vivian Malone Jones.
Click to see the full draft as well as the final speech, which was delivered by the President nationwide on radio and television.
"We Negroes are American Citizens - First Class tax payers, but so often we are treated as second class citizens, if there is such. In our hearts, we would like to know what it is that the White man has against the Negro. What can we do to make peace with the White man? We have to live on this earth together. We can not do without each other. We as a group, want your friendship, won’t you accept?"
Letter to President Dwight D. Eisenhower from Mrs. Floy J. Anderson Regarding Racial Disputes, 10/15/1957
In this letter, Mrs. Floy J. Anderson, who describes herself as Negro, writes about racial disputes including the recent Little Rock School Integration Crisis, being treated as a second class citizens and an incident where she was refused a ride on a Trans-contentintal Railway Bus.
Telegram from James Meredith to Robert Ellis, Registrar of the University of Mississippi, 1962
After a series of legal battles, James Meredith became the first African American accepted at the segregated University of Mississippi. Backed by a Supreme Court ruling, he attempted to register at the Ole Miss campus in Oxford on September 20, 1962 but was personally blocked by Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett.
"Separate is not equal"
On May 17, 1954, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that separate but equal public schools violated the 14th Amendment. On May 31, 1955, Chief Justice Earl Warren issued this decree, ruling how desegregation was to be carried out. The plan directs that schools be desegregated under the control of Federal district judges “with all deliberate speed.”
Desegregation of the armed forces did not occur overnight. Between 1948 and 1950, the Army in particular, resisted integration through bureaucratic tactics. General Omar Bradley, Army Chief of Staff, publicly declared “The Army is not out to make any social reforms.”
In opposition, President Truman told the military in January 1949 that he wanted “concrete results…, not publicity on it. I want the job done.” However, it wasn’t until the Korean War began on June 25, 1950 that integration became a battlefield necessity.
At the time of the armistice of July 27, 1953, ninety percent of the army’s units were integrated. On October 30, 1954, the armed services announced the integration of all of its branches.
Here, SFC Jasper and 1st Lt. Posey posing by the flag of their unit, 715th Truck Company, National Guard of Washington D.C., in Korea. The “Blair House” sign is the nickname for their units’ orderly room. December 8, 1951.
…it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country’s defense..
On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed this executive order establishing the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, committing the government to integrating the segregated military.
July 2 - The Civil Rights Act of 1964
This act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964, prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for the integration of schools and other public facilities, and made employment discrimination illegal. This document was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.
Wikipedia in Action!
Check out this brand new article created by Binksternet on the desegregation of the United States Marine Corps. The article features Today’s Document, the picture of Howard P. Perry, the first African-American US Marine Corps recruit in 1942.
This article is part of the Today’s Document Challenge on Wikipedia. We’re excited to see the enthusiasm of Wikipedians. Thank you for your hard work!