In honor of Black History Month the Editorial Team thought it most appropriate to re-release this episode on Executive Order 9981. Originally released in July 2018, the 70th anniversary was a great reminder to examine the official order to desegregate the military and consider how far we’ve come and what still must be accomplished.
We are at an all-time high of African-Americans serving at the three-star level, [including two] women. In my thirty-seven years in uniform, I don’t recall that many African-Americans at that most senior level.
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. – Harry S. Truman, Executive Order 9981.
July 26, 1948 saw a landmark event in U.S. military history, President Harry Truman’s signing of Executive Order (EO) 9981 directing the desegregation of the armed forces. Preceding the Civil Rights Act by more than a decade, this Executive Order was a groundbreaker — recognizing both the exemplary performance of African-Americans during World War II and their acceptance by white officers.
This episode is the first of two commemorating the seventieth anniversary of EO 9981 and its influence over the U.S. armed forces today. WAR ROOM welcomes Major General (Retired) William Walker, Former Commanding General of the District of Columbia National Guard, who shares how integrating the armed forces opened doors for him and other African-Americans. U.S. Army War College Professor of Leadership and Cultural Studies Chuck Allen moderates.
Major General (Retired) William Walker was the Commanding General of the District of Columbia National Guard from Jan 2017 – April 2021. Upon his retirement in 2021 he became the 38th Sergeant at Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Charles Allen is Professor of Leadership and Cultural Studies at the U.S. Army War College.
The views expressed in this presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.
Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by T. Anthony Bell, Fort Lee Public Affairs