Originally published 08/09/2013
Last month Americans marked the sixty-fifth anniversary of President Harry S. Truman’s signing Executive Order 9981 to desegregate America’s armed forces. African Americans had fought in every American war, including the Revolutionary War, but had done so in segregated units, often relegated to menial labor tasks. By the time President Truman issued Executive Order 9981, eliminating segregation and racial discrimination in the armed forces had become the single most important national issue to African American voters. Their cause was national in both scope and purpose.