Executive Order 9981

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Executive Order 9981 Executive Order 9981.jpg
Executive Order 9981

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. [1]

Harry S. Truman 33rd president of the United States

Harry S. Truman was the 33rd president of the United States from 1945 to 1953, succeeding upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt after serving as vice president. He implemented the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe, and established the Truman Doctrine and NATO.

Racial discrimination refers to discrimination against individuals on the basis of their race. Policies of racial segregation may formalize it, but it is also often exerted without being legalised and also it means facing injustice.

Discrimination based on skin color, also known as colorism or shadeism, is a form of prejudice or discrimination in which people are treated differently based on the social meanings attached to skin color.

Contents

History

Before Executive Order 9981

The Chicago Defender announces Executive Order 9981. Chicago Defender July 31 1948.jpg
The Chicago Defender announces Executive Order 9981.

Blacks in the military worked under different rules that delayed their entry into combat. They had to wait four years before they could begin combat training while a white American would begin training within months of being qualified. The Air Corps was deliberately delaying the training of African Americans even though it needed more manpower (Survey and Recommendations [2] ).

United States Army Air Corps air warfare branch of the US Army from 1926 to 1941

The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was the aerial warfare service of the United States of America between 1926 and 1941. After World War I, as early aviation became an increasingly important part of modern warfare, a philosophical rift developed between more traditional ground-based army personnel and those who felt that aircraft were being underutilized and that air operations were being stifled for political reasons unrelated to their effectiveness. The USAAC was renamed from the earlier United States Army Air Service on 2 July 1926, and was part of the larger United States Army. The Air Corps became the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) on 20 June 1941, giving it greater autonomy from the Army's middle-level command structure. During World War II, although not an administrative echelon, the Air Corps (AC) remained as one of the combat arms of the Army until 1947, when it was legally abolished by legislation establishing the Department of the Air Force.

In an Army survey conducted among 250 white officers and sergeants who had a colored platoon assigned to their company the following results were found: 77% of both officers and sergeants said they had become more favorable towards black soldiers after having a black platoon assigned to their company (no cases were found where someone said their attitude towards them had turned less favorable), 84% of officers and 81% of sergeants thought the black soldiers had performed very well in combat, only 5% of officers and 4% of sergeants thought that black infantry soldiers were not as good as white infantry soldiers, and 73% of officers and 60% of sergeants thought that black soldiers and white soldiers got along together very well. [3] According to this particular survey there are no reasonable grounds for segregation in the armed forces.

Platoon Military unit size, usually composed of two of more squads or equivalent units

A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two or more squads/sections/patrols. Platoon organization varies depending on the country and the branch, but typically, per the official tables of organization as published in U.S. military documents; a full-strength U.S. infantry rifle platoon consists of 39 Soldiers or 43 Marines. There are other types of infantry platoons, depending upon service and type of infantry company/battalion to which the platoon is assigned, and these platoons may range from as few as 18 to 69. Non-infantry platoons may range from as small as a nine-man communications platoon to a 102-man maintenance platoon. A platoon leader or commander is the officer in command of a platoon. This person is usually a junior officer—a second or first lieutenant or an equivalent rank. The officer is usually assisted by a platoon sergeant. A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer.

Attempts to end discrimination

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World War II veteran Spencer Moore addresses the audience in the Capitol Rotunda, Washington, D.C., at an event marking the 60th anniversary of the integration of the U.S. Armed Forces (July 23, 2008).
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World War II veterans talk with audience members in the Capitol Rotunda at an event marking the 60th anniversary of Executive Order 9981 (July 23, 2008).

In 1947, A. Philip Randolph, along with colleague Grant Reynolds, renewed efforts to end discrimination in the armed services, forming the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training, later renamed the League for Non-Violent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation. [4] Truman's Order expanded on Executive Order 8802 by establishing equality of treatment and opportunity in the military for people of all races, religions, or national origins.

A. Philip Randolph African-American civil-rights movement leader

Asa Philip Randolph was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, the American labor movement, and socialist political parties.

Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. All were enacted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by white Democratic-dominated state legislatures after the Reconstruction period. The laws were enforced until 1965. In practice, Jim Crow laws mandated racial segregation in all public facilities in the states of the former Confederate States of America, starting in the 1870s and 1880s, and were upheld in 1896, by the U.S. Supreme Court's "separate but equal" legal doctrine for facilities for African Americans, established with the court's decision in the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson. Moreover, public education had essentially been segregated since its establishment in most of the South, after the Civil War (1861–65).

Executive Order 8802 Reaffirming Policy of Full Participation in the Defense Program by All Persons, Regardless of Race, Creed, Color, or National Origin, and Directing Certain Action in Furtherance of Said Policy

Executive Order 8802 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on July 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. Many citizens of Italian or German ethnicity were affected by World War II and this was impeding the war effort and lowering morale. This ethnic factor was a major motivation for Roosevelt. The President's statement that accompanied the Order cited the war effort, saying that "the democratic way of life within the nation can be defended successfully only with the help and support of all groups," and cited reports of discrimination:

There is evidence available that needed workers have been barred from industries engaged in defense production solely because of considerations of race, creed, color or national origin, to the detriment of workers' morale and of national unity.

The order:

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale.

The order also established a committee to investigate and make recommendations to the civilian leadership of the military to implement the policy.

The order eliminated Montford Point as a segregated marine boot camp. It became a satellite facility of Camp Lejeune. [5]

Recruit training initial indoctrination and instruction given to new military personnel

Recruit training, more commonly known as basic training or colloquially boot camp, refers to the initial instruction of new military personnel. Recruit training is a physically and psychologically intensive process, which resocializes its subjects for the demands of military employment.

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune United States military training facility in Jacksonville, North Carolina

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is a 246-square-mile (640 km2) United States military training facility in Jacksonville, North Carolina. The base's 14 miles (23 km) of beaches make it a major area for amphibious assault training, and its location between two deep-water ports allows for fast deployments.

Most of the actual enforcement of the order was accomplished by President Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration (1953–1961), including the desegregation of military schools, hospitals, and bases. The last of the all-black units in the United States military was abolished in September 1954. [6]

Military history of African Americans

The military history of African Americans spans from the arrival of the first enslaved Africans during the colonial history of the United States to the present day. In every war fought by or within the United States, African-Americans participated, including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican–American War, the Civil War, the Spanish–American War, the World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as other minor conflicts.

Kenneth Claiborne Royall, Secretary of the Army since 1947, was forced into retirement in April 1949 for continuing to refuse to desegregate the army nearly a year after President Truman's Order. [7]

Fifteen years after Truman's order, on July 26, 1963, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara issued Directive 5120.36 encouraging military commanders to employ their financial resources against facilities used by soldiers or their families that discriminated based upon sex or race.[ citation needed ]

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Desegregation is the process of ending the separation of two groups usually referring to races. This is most commonly used in reference to the United States. Desegregation was long a focus of the Civil Rights Movement, both before and after the United States Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, particularly desegregation of the school systems and the military. Racial integration of society was a closely related goal.

Sergeant military rank

Sergeant is a rank in many uniformed organizations, principally military and policing forces. The alternate spelling, "serjeant", is used in The Rifles and other units that draw their heritage from the British Light Infantry. Its origin is the Latin "serviens", "one who serves", through the French term "sergent".

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Staff sergeant is a rank of non-commissioned officer used in the armed forces of several countries. It is also a police rank in some police services.

Isaac Woodard American victim of racial abuse

Isaac Woodard Jr. was a decorated African American World War II veteran. 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.

Freeman Field mutiny

The Freeman Field mutiny was a series of incidents at Freeman Army Airfield, a United States Army Air Forces base near Seymour, Indiana, in 1945 in which African American members of the 477th Bombardment Group attempted to integrate an all-white officers' club. The mutiny resulted in 162 separate arrests of black officers, some of them twice. Three were court-martialed on relatively minor charges. One was convicted. In 1995, the Air Force officially vindicated the actions of the African-American officers, set aside the single court-martial conviction and removed letters of reprimand from the permanent files of 15 of the officers. The mutiny is generally regarded by historians of the Civil Rights Movement as an important step toward full integration of the armed forces and as a model for later efforts to integrate public facilities through civil disobedience.

The President's Committee on Civil Rights was a United States Presidential Commission established by President Harry Truman in 1946. The committee was created by Executive Order 9808 on December 5, 1946 and instructed to investigate the status of civil rights in the country and propose measures to strengthen and protect them. After the committee submitted a report of its findings to President Truman, it disbanded in December 1947.

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Racism against African Americans in the U.S. military

Discrimination against black people who have served in the U.S. military lasted from its creation during the Revolutionary War to the end of segregation by President Harry S. Truman's Executive Order 9981 in 1948.

The President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, or the Fahy Committee was formed by President Harry S Truman as part of Executive Order 9981. This committee consisted of Charles H. Fahy as chairman and six other members, two of whom were African-American. The committee's main purpose was to oversee successful racial integration of the US Armed Forces.

Anna Mac Clarke from Kentucky joined the Women's Army Corps of the US Army in 1942. She became the first African American women to be a commanding officer of an otherwise all White regiment, so broke not only gender barriers and conquered race barriers when the United States military was still segregated.

Desegregation in the United States Marine Corps

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is a desegregated force, made up of troops of all races working and fighting alongside each other. In 1776 and 1777, a dozen Black American Marines served in the American Revolutionary War, but from 1798 to 1942, the USMC followed a racially discriminatory policy of denying African Americans the opportunity to serve as Marines. For more than 140 years, the Marines recruited primarily European Americans and white Hispanics, along with a few Asian Americans.

Racial segregation in the United States Armed Forces, which has included separation of white and people of color troops, quotas, restriction of people of color troops to support roles, and outright bans on blacks and other people of color serving in the military, has been a part of the military history of the United States since the American Revolution. Each branch of the Armed Forces has historically had different policies regarding racial segregation. Although Executive Order 9981 officially ended segregation in the Armed Forces in 1948, following World War II, some forms of racial segregation continued until after the Korean War.

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References

  1. "Executive Order 9981". Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
  2. "Survey and Recommendations Concerning the Integration of the Negro Soldier into the Army". Harry S. Truman Library. September 22, 1941.
  3. "Opinions About Negro Infantry Platoons in White Companies of 7 Divisions". Harry S. Truman Library. July 3, 1945.
  4. Susan M. Glisson, The Human Tradition in the Civil Rights Movement (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), 91
  5. "Marine Corps Base Camp LeJeune – History". Official Website of the United States Marine Corps. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  6. Nichols, David A. (2007). A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 42–50. ISBN   978-1-4165-4554-5.
  7. Robert B. Edgerton, Hidden Heroism: Black Soldiers in America's Wars, (Barnes & Noble 2009), 165

Further reading