President Truman Ends Military Segregation

Harry S. Truman
President Harry S. Truman
On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 to end racial discrimination in the United States Armed Forces.  The segregation of the military eventually evolved from this order.  A. Phillip Randolph and Grant Reynolds can receive much of the credit for expediting the end to military segregation by establishing in 1947 the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training which was later named the League for Non-Violent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation.  This organization pressured President Truman to end racial discrimination in the military. Truman may also have been influenced by a need for the African American vote.

A. Phillip Randolph (November 1942)

President Truman stated in Number (1) of Order 9981 :

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.

Tuskegee Airmen in Italy During 1945
Tuskegee airmen 2
Photograph shows several Tuskegee airmen. Front row, left to right: unidentified airman; Jimmie D. Wheeler (with goggles); Emile G. Clifton (cloth cap) San Francisco, CA, Class 44-B. Standing left to right: Ronald W. Reeves (cloth cap) Washington, DC, Class 44-G; Hiram Mann (leather cap); Joseph L. “Joe” Chineworth (wheel cap) Memphis, TN, Class 44-E; Elwood T. Driver? Los Angeles, CA, Class 44-A; Edward “Ed” Thomas (partial view); Woodrow W. Crockett (wheel cap); at Ramitelli, Italy, March 1945. (Source: Tuskegee Airmen 332nd Fighter Group pilots.)