Executive Order 9981: Desegregation of the Armed Forces

(1948)

On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 with the intent of “Establishing the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Forces.” The purpose of Executive Order 9981, then, was twofold. One purpose was to declare that it would be the policy of the United States to provide equality of opportunity for members of the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin. In this sense, armed forces desegregation could be said to have launched the civil rights movement that dominated the 1950s and 1960s. The second, more specific purpose was to establish a seven-member advisory committee to study and recommend specific steps that the armed forces could take to implement the desegregation policy. Executive Order 9981 granted the committee investigative authority and ordered the armed forces and other federal executive agencies to provide testimony and documents that the committee needed to carry...

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Executive Order 9981 (National Archives and Records Administration)

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