Truman Orders Desegregation of U.S. Armed Forces (Great Events from History II: Human Rights Series)
Article abstract: Desegregation of the armed forces continued a process of granting equal civil rights in American life and acted as an important impetus for the desegregation of public facilities.
Summary of Event
At the beginning of World War II, the American armed services, reflecting larger patterns in American society, were almost completely segregated. Although African Americans had participated in every war, their numbers were small, their roles were limited, and their units were almost always segregated. Few African-American units engaged in combat in the Spanish-American War or in World War I. Their uneven levels of performance allowed many white Army officers to retain their prejudices, thus limiting African-American troop deployment and obstructing the services’ willingness to desegregate. American success in both those wars allowed for the maintenance of a racial status quo in the military. Change effected by World War I and the industrialization of America created conditions allowing for movement toward a more egalitarian civilian life. Many African Americans moved from the rural South to the industrialized North, where their incomes and education rose dramatically. Racial relations began to change. World War II provided the spark to ignite the Civil Rights movement. In addition to the underlying internal demographic changes, the war provided specific conditions enabling progress in civil rights. First,...
(The entire section is 2494 words.)
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