Desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces: Fighting on Two Fronts, 1939-1953

Desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces: Fighting on Two Fronts, 1939-1953

Desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces: Fighting on Two Fronts, 1939-1953

Desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces: Fighting on Two Fronts, 1939-1953

Excerpt

The purpose of this study is to describe and explain the change in the racial policy of the military services and the Negro's reaction to this policy from 1939 to 1953. In accomplishing this goal, I hope also to shed some light on American race relations during the forgotten years of the Civil Rights Revolution.During the years 1939 to 1953 the United States armed forces moved from a policy of restricting and segregating the Negro to one of equal opportunity and integration.This was truly a social revolution, the extent of which was summarized several years ago and remains accurate to this day:

Today the national armed forces are the most integrated major segment of American life.Great numbers of Americans, Negro and white, obtain their first contact with nonsegregation after they enter uniform, whether stationed North or South.

This revolution was not achieved without expenditure of a great deal of time and effort. Throughout American history the black American viewed his military service in the nation's conflicts as proof of his loyalty and as a brief for his claim to full citizenship.White Americans appear to have realized this, and they continually sought to restrict or downgrade the black soldier's military service.In the Dred Scott decision, for example, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roger Taney cited the fact that Negroes were excluded from the state militia as part of his argument that they were not to be considered citi-

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