June 26, 1948 ~ Truman Desegregates the Armed Forces

Today in 1948, President Harry S. #Truman issued Executive Orders 9980 and 9981 which began the process of desegregating the armed forces and the federal government of the #UnitedStates and helped kick-start the modern #civilrights movement. Here is a look back at the #History of #AfricanAmericans in the U.S. Military, including the roles black soldiers played with the #Milita and #FrancisMarion in #SouthCarolina during the American Revolution; CPL Eddie Stowers in #WW1; the contribution of black troops through the World Wars; the blinding of SGT Isaac Woodard; and the Truman Civil Rights Committee.#segregation #desegregation #HistoryBites

Today in 1948, president Harry S. Truman issued Executive Orders 9980 and 9981 which began the process of desegregating the armed forces and the federal government of the United States and helped kick-start the modern civil rights movement. Here is a look back at the History of African-Americans in the U.S. Military, including the roles black soldiers played in South Carolina during the American Revolution and the World Wars.

By 1948, African-American soldiers had distinguished themselves in every major conflict since the Revolutionary War.

Black volunteers served with various South Carolina militia units, including that of the “Swamp Fox”, Francis Marion, half of whose force sometimes consisted of free Blacks. These Black troops made a critical difference in the fighting in the swamps, and kept Marion’s guerrillas effective even when many of his White troops were down with malaria or yellow fever.

A militia unit, The Louisiana Battalion of Free Men of Color fought with General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. 30-years later, during the Mexican–American War, the Louisiana Battalion of Free Men of Color again fought alongside white units and distinguished themselves in battle.

African Americans also served on navy ships throughout the nineteenth century in both combat and non-combat roles and made up a significant part of the peacetime navy

During the U.S. Civil War, nearly 200,000 African-American men, comprising 163 units served in the Union Army and many more served in the Union Navy. Both free African Americans and runaway slaves joined the fight.

From 1863 to the early 20th century, African-American units were utilized by the Army to combat the Native Americans during the Indian Wars. The most noted among this group were the Buffalo Soldiers.

Black soldiers served in both the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War.

During WW1, 350,000 African Americans served with the American Expeditionary Force on the Western Front, including Corporal Freddie Stowers of the 371st Infantry Regiment who was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor for bravery—the only African American to be so honored for actions in World War I.

During WWII, African-American’s once again stepped forward to serve. There were 125,000 African Americans who were overseas in World War II. Famous segregated units, such as the Tuskegee Airmen and 761st Tank Battalion and the lesser-known but equally distinguished 452nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion all distinguished themselves through out the conflict.

With victory overseas in WW2 achieved, black soldiers returned home.
Despite their gallant service, many African American soldiers returned home to the same discrimination and segregation they knew before the war.

On February 12, 1946, hours after being honorably discharged from the United States Army, SGT Issac Woodard was attacked while still in uniform by a South Carolina police chief as he was taking a bus home. The attack and his injuries sparked a national outrage.

Film and radio legend Orson Welles helped bring the attack to the national attention and to the Attention of U.S. President, Harry S. Truman.

When President Truman learned of the attack on SGT Woodard, a U.S. Service member, he was disgusted and became determined to address racial discrimination in the Armed forces and federal government head-on.

He made a strong speech on civil rights on June 29, 1947, to the NAACP, the first American president to speak to their meeting, which was broadcast by radio from where they met on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The President said that civil rights was a moral priority, and it was his priority for the federal government. He created a commission Civil Rights to to examine discrimination across the board and make recommendations.

In December 1947, Commission would publish its report To Secure These Rights: The Report of the President’s Committee on Civil Rights which included recommendations on fighting racial discrimination.

On February 2, 1948, President Truman sent the first comprehensive civil rights bill to Congress it included many of the recommendations of his commission.

Then on June 26, 1948, over the objection of senior military officers, Truman issued Executive Order 9981, banning racial discrimination in the U.S. Armed Forces, and Executive Order 9980 to integrate the federal government.

By the stroke of the pen, Harry S. Truman fired the first volley of the modern civil rights movement and set the country on a path to addressing racial discrimination head-on.

It all happen today in 1948.

Truman subsequently established a national interracial commission, made a historic speech to the NAACP and the nation in June 1947 in which he described civil rights as a moral priority, submitted a civil rights bill to Congress in February 1948, and issued Executive Orders 9980 and 9981 on June 26, 1948, desegregating the armed forces and the federal government.

On February 12, 1946, hours after being honorably discharged from the United States Army, he was attacked while still in uniform by South Carolina police as he was taking a bus home. The attack and his injuries sparked national outrage and galvanized the civil rights movement in the United States.

President’s Committee on Civil Rights

The committee was charged with examining the condition of civil rights in the United States, producing a written report of their findings, and submitting recommendations on improving civil rights in the United States. In December 1947, the committee produced a 178 page report entitled To Secure These Rights: The Report of the President’s Committee on Civil Rights. In the report, it proposed to establish a permanent Civil Rights Commission, Joint Congressional Committee on Civil Rights, and a Civil Rights Division in the Department of Justice; to develop federal protection from lynching; a permanent fair employment practice commission; to abolish poll taxes; and urged other measures[2]. Furthermore, the report raised the distinct possibility that the UN Charter from 1945 could also be used as a source of law to fight persistent racial discrimination in the US

On July 26, 1948, President Truman advanced the recommendations of the report by signing Executive Order 9980 and Executive Order 9981. Executive Order 9980 ordered the desegregation of the federal work force and Executive Order 9981 ordered the desegregation of the armed services[3]. He also sent a special message to Congress on February 2, 1948 to implement the recommendations of the President’s Committee on Civil Rights

Executive Order 9981 is an executive order issued on July 26, 1948, by President Harry S. Truman. It abolished discrimination “on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin” in the United States Armed Forces. The executive order eventually led to the end of segregation in the services.

Though the last all-black units wasn’t abolished until 1954 during the Eisenhower administration.

Expanded on Executive Order 8802 was signed by PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt on June 25, 1941, to prohibit ethnic or racial discrimination in the nation’s defense industry. It also set up the Fair Employment Practice Committee. It was the first federal action, though not a law, to promote equal opportunity and prohibit employment discrimination in the United States.

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