President Harry S. Truman's Executive Order 9981

President Harry S. Truman's Executive Order 9981

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President Harry S. Truman's Executive Order 9981

On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman orders the
desegregation of the Armed Forces by Executive Order 9981.
Prior to Harry Truman passing the Executive Order 9981 on
February 2, 1948 he asked Congress to create a permanent
FEPC, and in December 1946, he appointed a distinguished
panel to serve as the President's Commission on Civil
Rights, which would recommend "more adequate means and
procedures for the protection of the civil rights of the
people of the United States." The Commission noted the
many restrictions on blacks, and urged that each person,
regardless of race, color or national origin, should have
access to equal opportunity in securing education, decent
housing and jobs. Harry Truman sent a special message to
Congress on February 2, 1948 calling for prompt
implementation of the Commission's recommendations.
Southerners were unhappy with that idea and “immediately
threatened a filibuster”, so Truman, unable to secure action
from the Congress had no choice but to move ahead using his
executive authority. Critics on Capitol Hill easily
stopped his proposals.
     Some historians believe President Truman had hoped to
unite the Democratic Party by
promising civil rights to African Americans, but not pushing
so fast as to alienate segregationists. Southern Democrats
formed the Dixiecrat Party and nominated South Carolina
Governor Strom Thurmond for president.
     President Truman’s Executive Board was the beginning
step for further integration in the Armed Forces. Following
President Truman's Executive Order, two boards were
established to make recommendations about integration. A
presidential commission chaired by Charles Fahy recommended
an end to discrimination in jobs, schooling, assignment, and
     In 1952 it was the Korean War that finally led to the
desegregation of previously all-white combat unit.
The main goal of President Trumans Executive Order 9981 was
to grant equality of treatment and opportunity for all
persons in the armed services without regard to race, color,
religion or national origin. “There shall be created in the
National Military Establishment an advisory committee to be
known as the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment
and Opportunity in the Armed Services, which shall be
composed of seven members to be designated by the
President.” He also states that the Committee “shall
confer and advise the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of
the Army, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of
the Air Force”.
     Over 2.5 million African-American men registered for
the draft, and black women also volunteered in large
numbers. While serving in the Army, Army Air Forces, Navy,

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Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, they experienced
discrimination and segregation but met the challenge and
persevered. They served their country with distinction, made
valuable contributions to the war effort, and earned high
praises and commendations for their struggles and
     During World War II (1939-1945) African Americans were
fighting for the United States in a segregated Army. They
were treated unfairly and fought under harsh circumstances.
I believe that President Truman saw what the African
American troops were going through and I guess he ifelt that
it was time that American should be intergrated and no more
“separate but equal”.
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