President Truman ends discrimination in the military

President Harry S. Truman signs Executive Order 9981 – ending discrimination in the military – on July 26, 1948. Truman’s Order ended a long-standing practice of separating black soldiers and relegating them to more menial jobs.

African-Americans had served in the U.S. military since the Revolutionary War, but were deployed in large numbers during the Second World War. By December 31, 1945, more than 2.5 million African Americans had registered for the military draft, and with African American women volunteering in large numbers throughout the war, the United States armed forces had become the first employer of blacks. By the end of World War II, some 900,000 African Americans had served in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Nursing Corps. army.

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