Executive Order 9981:
The End of U.S. Military Segregation
After former slaves fought on the Union side in the Civil War, the government abolished slavery and enfranchised black men to vote. When black regiments fought heroically in World War II, the government later eliminated the substantial indignities of a segregated army. Some black soldiers were lynched. Many questioned how they would perform under the stress of combat. Despite the doubts and the scorn, thousands of black soldiers did their duty honorably.
President Truman issued the order in 1948, but it would take several years to implement. Many white military officers and men bristled at the edict and some branches of the military resisted. The onset of the Korean War in 1950, however, sped up the process of integration. By the end of the conflict, 90 percent of the military was integrated. Ultimately, the integration of the armed forces was considered a model success story in achieving the goal of a color-blind society.
Click on link to download full text of Executive Order 9981, signed by President Harry S. Truman on July 26, 1948, ending the policy of military segregation in the United States.
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