Press Release For Executive Order No. 9981, Establishing the President's Committee On Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Forces
Digital History ID 2359
Harry S. Truman
African Americans had served in the military in large numbers since the Civil War in segregated units commanded by white officers. The first step to desegregation was Executive Order No. 9981, which established the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Forces. Though the order was issued in 1948, the actual full scale integration of the military did not begin until U.S. forces in Korea began to experience heavy casualties in all white units, prompting field commanders to begin accepting black recruits in 1951.
Whereas it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country's defense:
Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, by the Constitution and the statutes of the United States, and as Commander in Chief of the armed services, it is hereby ordered as follows:
1. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale.
2. There shall be created in the National Military Establishment an advisory committee to be known' as the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, which shall be composed of seven members to be designated by the President.
3. The Committee is authorized on behalf of the President to examine into the rules, procedures and practices of the armed services in order to determine in what respect such rules, procedures and practices may be altered or improved with a view to carrying out the policy of this order. The Committee shall confer and advise with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of the Air Force, and shall make such recommendations to the President and to said Secretaries as in the judgment of the Committee will effectuate the policy hereof.
4. All executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government are authorized and directed to cooperate with the Committee in its work, and to furnish the Committee such information or the services of such persons as the Committee may require in the performance of its duties.
5. When requested by the Committee to do so, persons in the armed services or in any of the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall testify before the Committee and shall make available for the use of the Committee such documents and other information as the Committee may require.
6. The Committee shall continue to exist until such time as the President shall terminate its existence by Executive order.
Harry S. Truman
The White House, July 26, 1948
Source: Library of Congress
Additional information: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Visual Materials from the NAACP Records
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