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Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940-1965
by Morris J. MacGregor Jr.
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[Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected, author's spelling has been retained. —Missing page numbers correspond to illustration or blank pages.]



INTEGRATION OF THE ARMED FORCES 1940-1965



DEFENSE STUDIES SERIES



INTEGRATION OF THE ARMED FORCES 1940-1965

by Morris J. MacGregor, Jr.



Defense Historical Studies Committee (as of 6 April 1979)

Alfred Goldberg Office of the Secretary of Defense

Robert J. Watson Historical Division, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Brig. Gen. James L. Collins, Jr. Chief of Military History

Maj. Gen. John W. Huston Chief of Air Force History

Maurice Matloff Center of Military History

Stanley L. Falk Office of Air Force History

Rear Adm. John D. H. Kane, Jr. Director of Naval History

Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Edwin H. Simmons Director of Marine Corps History and Museums

Dean C. Allard Naval Historical Center

Henry J. Shaw, Jr. Marine Corps Historical Center



Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

MacGregor, Morris J Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940-1965

(Defense studies series) Includes bibliographical references and index. Supt. of Docs. no.: D 114.2:In 8/940-65 1. Afro-American soldiers. 2. United States—Race Relations. I. Title. II. Series. UB418.A47M33 335.3'3 80-607077



Department of the Army Historical Advisory Committee (as of 6 April 1979)

Otis A. Singletary University of Kentucky

Maj. Gen. Robert C. Hixon U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command

Brig. Gen. Robert Arter U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

Sara D. Jackson National Historical Publications and Records Commission

Harry L. Coles Ohio State University

Maj. Gen. Enrique Mendez, Jr. Deputy Surgeon General, USA

Robert H. Ferrell Indiana University

James O'Neill Deputy Archivist of the United States

Cyrus H. Fraker The Adjutant General Center

Benjamin Quarles Morgan State College

William H. Goetzmann University of Texas

Brig. Gen. Alfred L. Sanderson Army War College

Col. Thomas E. Griess U.S. Military Academy

Russell F. Weigley Temple University



Foreword

The integration of the armed forces was a momentous event in our military and national history; it represented a milestone in the development of the armed forces and the fulfillment of the democratic ideal. The existence of integrated rather than segregated armed forces is an important factor in our military establishment today. The experiences in World War II and the postwar pressures generated by the civil rights movement compelled all the services—Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps—to reexamine their traditional practices of segregation. While there were differences in the ways that the services moved toward integration, all were subject to the same demands, fears, and prejudices and had the same need to use their resources in a more rational and economical way. All of them reached the same conclusion: traditional attitudes toward minorities must give way to democratic concepts of civil rights.

If the integration of the armed services now seems to have been inevitable in a democratic society, it nevertheless faced opposition that had to be overcome and problems that had to be solved through the combined efforts of political and civil rights leaders and civil and military officials. In many ways the military services were at the cutting edge in the struggle for racial equality. This volume sets forth the successive measures they and the Office of the Secretary of Defense took to meet the challenges of a new era in a critically important area of human relationships, during a period of transition that saw the advance of blacks in the social and economic order as well as in the military. It is fitting that this story should be told in the first volume of a new Defense Studies Series.

The Defense Historical Studies Program was authorized by the then Deputy Secretary of Defense, Cyrus Vance, in April 1965. It is conducted under the auspices of the Defense Historical Studies Group, an ad hoc body chaired by the Historian of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and consisting of the senior officials in the historical offices of the services and of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Volumes produced under its sponsorship will be interservice histories, covering matters of mutual interest to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The preparation of each volume is entrusted to one of the service historical sections, in this case the Army's Center of Military History. Although the book was written by an Army historian, he was generously given access to the pertinent records of the other services and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and this initial volume in the Defense Studies Series covers the experiences of all components of the Department of Defense in achieving integration.

Washington, D.C. JAMES L. COLLINS, Jr. 14 March 1980 Brigadier General, USA Chief of Military History



The Author

Morris J. MacGregor, Jr., received the A.B. and M.A. degrees in history from the Catholic University of America. He continued his graduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Paris on a Fulbright grant. Before joining the staff of the U.S. Army Center of Military History in 1968 he served for ten years in the Historical Division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has written several studies for military publications including "Armed Forces Integration—Forced or Free?" in The Military and Society: Proceedings of the Fifth Military Symposium of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is the coeditor with Bernard C. Nalty of the thirteen-volume Blacks in the United States Armed Forces: Basic Documents and with Ronald Spector of Voices of History: Interpretations in American Military History. He is currently working on a sequel to Integration of the Armed Forces which will also appear in the Defense Studies Series.



Preface (p. ix)

This book describes the fall of the legal, administrative, and social barriers to the black American's full participation in the military service of his country. It follows the changing status of the black serviceman from the eve of World War II, when he was excluded from many military activities and rigidly segregated in the rest, to that period a quarter of a century later when the Department of Defense extended its protection of his rights and privileges even to the civilian community. To round out the story of open housing for members of the military, I briefly overstep the closing date given in the title.

The work is essentially an administrative history that attempts to measure the influence of several forces, most notably the civil rights movement, the tradition of segregated service, and the changing concept of military efficiency, on the development of racial policies in the armed forces. It is not a history of all minorities in the services. Nor is it an account of how the black American responded to discrimination. A study of racial attitudes, both black and white, in the military services would be a valuable addition to human knowledge, but practically impossible of accomplishment in the absence of sufficient autobiographical accounts, oral history interviews, and detailed sociological measurements. How did the serviceman view his condition, how did he convey his desire for redress, and what was his reaction to social change? Even now the answers to these questions are blurred by time and distorted by emotions engendered by the civil rights revolution. Few citizens, black or white, who witnessed it can claim immunity to the influence of that paramount social phenomenon of our times.

At times I do generalize on the attitudes of both black and white servicemen and the black and white communities at large as well. But I have permitted myself to do so only when these attitudes were clearly pertinent to changes in the services' racial policies and only when the written record supported, or at least did not contradict, the memory of those participants who had been interviewed. In any case this study is largely history written from the top down and is based primarily on the written records left by the administrations of five presidents and by civil rights leaders, service officials, and the press.

Many of the attitudes and expressions voiced by the participants in the story are now out of fashion. The reader must be constantly on guard against viewing the beliefs and statements of many civilian and military officials out of context of the times in which they were expressed. Neither bigotry nor stupidity was the monopoly of some of the people quoted; their statements are important for what they tell us about certain attitudes of our society rather than for what they reveal about any individual. If the methods or attitudes of some (p. x) of the black spokesmen appear excessively tame to those who have lived through the 1960's, they too should be gauged in the context of the times. If their statements and actions shunned what now seems the more desirable, albeit radical, course, it should be given them that the style they adopted appeared in those days to be the most promising for racial progress.

The words black and Negro have been used interchangeably in the book, with Negro generally as a noun and black as an adjective. Aware of differing preferences in the black community for usage of these words, the author was interested in comments from early readers of the manuscript. Some of the participants in the story strongly objected to one word or the other. "Do me one favor in return for my help," Lt. Comdr. Dennis D. Nelson said, "never call me a black." Rear Adm. Gerald E. Thomas, on the other hand, suggested that the use of the term Negro might repel readers with much to learn about their recent past. Still others thought that the historian should respect the usage of the various periods covered in the story, a solution that would have left the volume with the term colored for most of the earlier chapters and Negro for much of the rest. With rare exception, the term black does not appear in twentieth century military records before the late 1960's. Fashions in words change, and it is only for the time being perhaps that black and Negro symbolize different attitudes. The author has used the words as synonyms and trusts that the reader will accept them as such. Professor John Hope Franklin, Mrs. Sara Jackson of the National Archives, and the historians and officials that constituted the review panel went along with this approach.

The second question of usage concerns the words integration and desegregation. In recent years many historians have come to distinguish between these like-sounding words. Desegregation they see as a direct action against segregation; that is, it signifies the act of removing legal barriers to the equal treatment of black citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution. The movement toward desegregation, breaking down the nation's Jim Crow system, became increasingly popular in the decade after World War II. Integration, on the other hand, Professor Oscar Handlin maintains, implies several things not yet necessarily accepted in all areas of American society. In one sense it refers to the "leveling of all barriers to association other than those based on ability, taste, and personal preference";[1] in other words, providing equal opportunity. But in another sense integration calls for the random distribution of a minority throughout society. Here, according to Handlin, the emphasis is on racial balance in areas of occupation, education, residency, and the like.

[Footnote 1: Oscar Handlin, "The Goals of Integration," Daedalus 95 (Winter 1966): 270.]

From the beginning the military establishment rightly understood that the breakup of the all-black unit would in a closed society necessarily mean more than mere desegregation. It constantly used the terms integration and equal treatment and opportunity to describe its racial goals. Rarely, if ever, does one find the word desegregation in military files that include much correspondence from the various (p. xi) civil rights organizations. That the military made the right choice, this study seems to demonstrate, for the racial goals of the Defense Department, as they slowly took form over a quarter of a century, fulfilled both of Professor Handlin's definitions of integration.

The mid-1960's saw the end of a long and important era in the racial history of the armed forces. Although the services continued to encounter racial problems, these problems differed radically in several essentials from those of the integration period considered in this volume. Yet there is a continuity to the story of race relations, and one can hope that the story of how an earlier generation struggled so that black men and women might serve their country in freedom inspires those in the services who continue to fight discrimination.

This study benefited greatly from the assistance of a large number of persons during its long years of preparation. Stetson Conn, chief historian of the Army, proposed the book as an interservice project. His successor, Maurice Matloff, forced to deal with the complexities of an interservice project, successfully guided the manuscript through to publication. The work was carried out under the general supervision of Robert R. Smith, chief of the General History Branch. He and Robert W. Coakley, deputy chief historian of the Army, were the primary reviewers of the manuscript, and its final form owes much to their advice and attention. The author also profited greatly from the advice of the official review panel, which, under the chairmanship of Alfred Goldberg, historian, Office of the Secretary of Defense, included Martin Blumenson; General J. Lawton Collins (USA Ret.); Lt. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. (USAF Ret.); Roy K. Davenport, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army; Stanley L. Falk, chief historian of the Air Force; Vice Adm. E. B. Hooper, Chief of Naval History; Professor Benjamin Quarles; Paul J. Scheips, historian, Center of Military History; Henry I. Shaw, chief historian of the U.S. Marine Corps; Loretto C. Stevens, senior editor of the Center of Military History; Robert J. Watson, chief historian of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Adam Yarmolinsky, former assistant to the Secretary of Defense.

Many of the participants in this story generously shared their knowledge with me and kindly reviewed my efforts. My footnotes acknowledge my debt to them. Nevertheless, two are singled out here for special mention. James C. Evans, former counselor to the Secretary of Defense for racial affairs, has been an endless source of information on race relations in the military. If I sometimes disagreed with his interpretations and assessments, I never doubted his total dedication to the cause of the black serviceman. I owe a similar debt to Lt. Comdr. Dennis D. Nelson (USN Ret.) for sharing his intimate understanding of race relations in the Navy. A resourceful man with a sure social touch, he must have been one hell of a sailor.

I want to note the special contribution of several historians. Martin Blumenson was first assigned to this project, and before leaving the Center of Military History he assembled research material that proved most helpful. My former colleague John Bernard Corr prepared a study on the National Guard upon which my account of the guard is based. In addition, he patiently reviewed many pages of the draft (p. xii) manuscript. His keen insights and sensitive understanding were invaluable to me. Professors Jack D. Foner and Marie Carolyn Klinkhammer provided particularly helpful suggestions in conjunction with their reviews of the manuscript. Samuel B. Warner, who before his untimely death was a historian in the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as a colleague of Lee Nichols on some of that reporter's civil rights investigations, also contributed generously of his talents and lent his support in the early days of my work. Finally, I am grateful for the advice of my colleague Ronald H. Spector at several key points in the preparation of this history.

I have received much help from archivists and librarians, especially the resourceful William H. Cunliffe and Lois Aldridge (now retired) of the National Archives and Dean C. Allard of the Naval Historical Center. Although the fruits of their scholarship appear often in my footnotes, three fellow researchers in the field deserve special mention: Maj. Alan M. Osur and Lt. Col. Alan L. Gropman of the U.S. Air Force and Ralph W. Donnelly, former member of the U.S. Marine Corps Historical Center. I have benefited from our exchange of ideas and have had the advantage of their reviews of the manuscript.

I am especially grateful for the generous assistance of my editors, Loretto C. Stevens and Barbara H. Gilbert. They have been both friends and teachers. In the same vein, I wish to thank John Elsberg for his editorial counsel. I also appreciate the help given by William G. Bell in the selection of the illustrations, including the loan of two rare items from his personal collection, and Arthur S. Hardyman for preparing the pictures for publication. I would like to thank Mary Lee Treadway and Wyvetra B. Yeldell for preparing the manuscript for panel review and Terrence J. Gough for his helpful pre-publication review.

Finally, while no friend or relative was spared in the long years I worked on this book, three colleagues especially bore with me through days of doubts and frustrations and shared my small triumphs: Alfred M. Beck, Ernest F. Fisher, Jr., and Paul J. Scheips. I also want particularly to thank Col. James W. Dunn. I only hope that some of their good sense and sunny optimism show through these pages.

Washington, D.C. MORRIS J. MACGREGOR, Jr. 14 March 1980



Contents (p. xiii)

Chapter Page

1. INTRODUCTION............................................. 3 The Armed forces Before 1940............................ 3 Civil Rights and the Law in 1940........................ 8 To Segregate Is To Discriminate........................ 13 2. WORLD WAR II: THE ARMY.................................. 17 A War Policy: Reaffirming Segregation.................. 17 Segregation and Efficiency............................. 23 The Need for Change.................................... 34 Internal Reform: Amending Racial Practices............. 39 Two Exceptions......................................... 46 3. WORLD WAR II: THE NAVY.................................. 58 Development of a Wartime Policy........................ 59 A Segregated Navy...................................... 67 Progressive Experiments................................ 75 Forrestal Takes the Helm............................... 84 4. WORLD WAR II: THE MARINE CORPS AND THE COAST GUARD...... 99 The First Black Marines............................... 100 New Roles for Black Coast Guardsmen................... 112 5. A POSTWAR SEARCH....................................... 123 Black Demands......................................... 123 The Army's Grand Review............................... 130 The Navy's Informal Inspection........................ 143 6. NEW DIRECTIONS......................................... 152 The Gillem Board Report............................... 153 Integration of the General Service.................... 166 The Marine Corps...................................... 170 7. A PROBLEM OF QUOTAS.................................... 176 The Quota in Practice................................. 182 Broader Opportunities................................. 189 Assignments........................................... 194 A New Approach........................................ 198 The Quota System: An Assessment....................... 202 8. SEGREGATION'S CONSEQUENCES............................. 206 Discipline and Morale Among Black Troops.............. 206 Improving the Status of the Segregated Soldier........ 215 Discrimination and the Postwar Army................... 223 (p. xiv) Segregation in Theory and Practice.................... 226 Segregation: An Assessment............................ 231 9. THE POSTWAR NAVY....................................... 234 The Steward's Branch.................................. 238 Black Officers........................................ 243 Public Image and the Problem of Numbers............... 248 10. THE POSTWAR MARINE CORPS.............................. 253 Racial Quotas and Assignments......................... 253 Recruitment........................................... 257 Segregation and Efficiency............................ 261 Toward Integration.................................... 266 11. THE POSTWAR AIR FORCE................................. 270 Segregation and Efficiency............................ 271 Impulse for Change.................................... 280 12. THE PRESIDENT INTERVENES.............................. 291 The Truman Administration and Civil Rights............ 292 Civil Rights and the Department of Defense............ 297 Executive Order 9981.................................. 309 13. SERVICE INTERESTS VERSUS PRESIDENTIAL INTENT.......... 315 Public Reaction to Executive Order 9981............... 315 The Army: Segregation on the Defensive................ 318 A Different Approach.................................. 326 The Navy: Business as Usual........................... 331 Adjustments in the Marine Corps....................... 334 The Air Force Plans for Limited Integration........... 338 14. THE FAHY COMMITTEE VERSUS THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE... 343 The Committee's Recommendations....................... 348 A Summer of Discontent................................ 362 Assignments........................................... 368 Quotas................................................ 371 An Assessment......................................... 375 15. THE ROLE OF THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, 1949-1951....... 379 Overseas Restrictions................................. 385 Congressional Concerns................................ 389 16. INTEGRATION IN THE AIR FORCE AND THE NAVY............. 397 The Air Force, 1949-1951.............................. 397 The Navy and Executive Order 9981..................... 412 17. THE ARMY INTEGRATES................................... 428 Race and Efficiency: 1950............................. 428 Training.............................................. 434 Performance of Segregated Units....................... 436 Final Arguments....................................... 440 Integration of the Eighth Army........................ 442 Integration of the European and Continental Commands.. 448 (p. xv) 18. INTEGRATION OF THE MARINE CORPS....................... 460 Impetus for Change.................................... 461 Assignments........................................... 466 19. A NEW ERA BEGINS...................................... 473 The Civil Rights Revolution........................... 474 Limitations on Executive Order 9981................... 479 Integration of Navy Shipyards......................... 483 Dependent Children and Integrated Schools............. 487 20. LIMITED RESPONSE TO DISCRIMINATION.................... 501 The Kennedy Administration and Civil Rights........... 504 The Department of Defense, 1961-1963.................. 510 Discrimination Off the Military Reservation........... 511 Reserves and Regulars: A Comparison................... 517 21. EQUAL TREATMENT AND OPPORTUNITY REDEFINED............. 530 The Secretary Makes a Decision........................ 530 The Gesell Committee.................................. 535 Reaction to a New Commitment.......................... 545 The Gesell Committee: Final Report.................... 552 22. EQUAL OPPORTUNITY IN THE MILITARY COMMUNITY........... 556 Creating a Civil Rights Apparatus..................... 558 Fighting Discrimination Within the Services........... 566 23. FROM VOLUNTARY COMPLIANCE TO SANCTIONS................ 581 Development of Voluntary Action Programs.............. 581 Civil Rights, 1964-1966............................... 586 The Civil Rights Act and Voluntary Compliance......... 590 The Limits of Voluntary Compliance.................... 593 24. CONCLUSION............................................ 609 Why the Services Integrated........................... 609 How the Services Integrated, 1946-1954................ 614 Equal Treatment and Opportunity....................... 619 NOTE ON SOURCES........................................... 625 INDEX..................................................... 635

Illustrations

Crewmen of the USS Miami During the Civil War............. 4 Buffalo Soldiers............................................ 5 Integration in the Army of 1888............................. 9 Gunner's Gang on the USS Maine........................... 10 (p. xvi) General John J. (Black Jack) Pershing Inspects Troops...... 11 Heroes of the 369th Infantry, February 1919................ 13 Judge William H. Hastie.................................... 20 General George C. Marshall and Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson............................................... 21 Engineer Construction Troops in Liberia, July 1942......... 26 Labor Battalion Troops in the Aleutian Islands, May 1943... 27 Sergeant Addressing the Line............................... 28 Pilots of the 332d Fighter Group........................... 29 Service Club, Fort Huachuca................................ 35 93d Division Troops in Bougainville, April 1944............ 44 Gun Crew of Battery B, 598th Field Artillery, September 1944........................................... 47 Tankers of the 761st Medium Tank Battalion Prepare for Action................................................... 48 WAAC Replacements.......................................... 50 Volunteers for Combat in Training.......................... 53 Road Repairmen............................................. 56 Mess Attendant, First Class, Dorie Miller Addressing Recruits at Camp Smalls.................................. 60 Admiral Ernest J. King and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox..................................................... 61 Crew Members of USS Argonaut, Pearl Harbor, 1942......... 62 Messmen Volunteer as Gunners, July 1942.................... 65 Electrician Mates String Power Lines....................... 68 Laborers at Naval Ammunition Depot......................... 73 Seabees in the South Pacific............................... 74 Lt. Comdr. Christopher S. Sargent.......................... 76 USS Mason................................................ 78 First Black Officers in the Navy........................... 81 Lt. (jg.) Harriet Ida Pickens and Ens. Frances Wills....... 88 Sailors in the General Service............................. 89 Security Watch in the Marianas............................. 90 Specialists Repair Aircraft................................ 93 The 22d Special Construction Battalion Celebrates V-J Day.. 97 Marines of the 51st Defense Battalion, Montford Point, 1942............................................. 102 Shore Party in Training, Camp Lejeune, 1942............... 105 D-day on Peleliu.......................................... 106 Medical Attendants at Rest, Peleliu, October 1944......... 107 Gun Crew of the 52d Defense Battalion..................... 110 Crewmen of USCG Lifeboat Station, Pea Island, North Carolina................................................ 112 Coast Guard Recruits at Manhattan Beach Training Station, New York....................................... 113 Stewards at Battle Station on the Cutter Campbell....... 117 Shore Leave in Scotland................................... 118 Lt. Comdr. Carlton Skinner and Crew of the USS Sea Cloud............................................. 120 Ens. Joseph J. Jenkins and Lt. (jg.) Clarence Samuels..... 121 President Harry S. Truman Addressing the NAACP Convention.............................................. 127 Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy................. 130 Civilian Aide to the Secretary of War Truman K. Gibson.... 131 (p. xvii) Company I, 370th Infantry, 92d Division, Advances Through Cascina, Italy.................................. 134 92d Division Engineers Prepare a Ford for Arno River Traffic................................................. 136 Lester Granger Interviewing Sailors....................... 146 Granger With Crewmen of a Naval Yard Craft................ 147 Lt. Gen. Alvan C. Gillem, U.S. Army....................... 154 Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson...................... 162 Admiral Louis E. Denfeld, U.S. Navy....................... 167 General Gerald C. Thomas, U.S. Marine Corps............... 172 Lt. Gen. Willard S. Paul.................................. 178 Adviser to the Secretary of War Marcus Ray................ 184 Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger Inspects 24th Infantry Troops.................................................. 191 Army Specialists Report for Airborne Training............. 200 Bridge Players, Seaview Service Club, Tokyo, Japan, 1948............................................. 203 24th Infantry Band, Gifu, Japan, 1947..................... 214 Lt. Gen. Clarence R. Huebner Inspects the 529th Military Police Company................................. 216 Reporting to Kitzingen.................................... 218 Inspection by the Chief of Staff.......................... 228 Brig. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.......................... 230 Shore Leave in Korea...................................... 236 Mess Attendants, USS Bushnell, 1918..................... 239 Mess Attendants, USS Wisconsin, 1953.................... 240 Lt. Comdr. Dennis D. Nelson II............................ 244 Naval Unit Passes in Review, Naval Advanced Base, Bremerhaven, Germany.................................... 249 Submariner................................................ 251 Marine Artillery Team..................................... 254 2d Lt. and Mrs. Frederick C. Branch....................... 267 Training Exercises........................................ 269 Damage Inspection......................................... 272 Col. Noel F. Parrish...................................... 274 Officers' Softball Team................................... 276 Checking Ammunition....................................... 278 Squadron F, 318th AAF Battalion, in Review................ 281 Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., Commander, 477th Composite Group, 1945............................................. 285 Lt. Gen. Idwal H. Edwards................................. 287 Col. Jack F. Marr......................................... 288 Walter F. White........................................... 295 Truman's Civil Rights Campaign............................ 297 A. Philip Randolph........................................ 300 National Defense Conference on Negro Affairs, 26 April 1948.................................................... 306 MP's Hitch a Ride......................................... 320 Secretary of the Army Kenneth C. Royall Reviews Military Police Battalion............................... 323 Spring Formal Dance, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, 1952.......................................... 327 Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal................... 330 General Clifton B. Cates.................................. 335 (p. xviii) 1st Marine Division Drill Team on Exhibition.............. 337 Secretary of the Air Force W. Stuart Symington............ 340 Secretary of Defense Louis C. Johnson..................... 347 Fahy Committee With President Truman and Armed Services Secretaries............................................. 349 E. W. Kenworthy........................................... 353 Charles Fahy.............................................. 354 Roy K. Davenport.......................................... 355 Press Notice.............................................. 361 Secretary of the Army Gordon Gray......................... 370 Chief of Staff of the Army J. Lawton Collins.............. 371 "No Longer a Dream"....................................... 377 Navy Corpsman in Korea.................................... 382 25th Division Troops in Japan............................. 388 Assistant Secretary of Defense Anna M. Rosenberg.......... 391 Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Eugene M. Zuckert.... 402 Music Makers.............................................. 408 Maintenance Crew, 462d Strategic Fighter Squadron......... 410 Jet Mechanics............................................. 411 Christmas in Korea, 1950.................................. 417 Rearming at Sea........................................... 418 Broadening Skills......................................... 419 Integrated Stewards Class Graduates, Great Lakes, 1953.... 423 WAVE Recruits, Naval Training Center, Bainbridge, Maryland, 1953.......................................... 425 Rear Adm. Samuel L. Gravely, Jr........................... 426 Moving Up................................................. 431 Men of Battery A, 159th Field Artillery Battalion......... 433 Survivors of an Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, 24th Infantry.................................. 438 General Matthew B. Ridgway, Far East Commander............ 444 Machine Gunners of Company L, 14th Infantry, Hill 931, Korea................................................... 446 Color Guard, 160th Infantry, Korea, 1952.................. 448 Visit With the Commander.................................. 454 Brothers Under the Skin................................... 455 Marines on the Kansas Line, Korea......................... 465 Marine Reinforcements..................................... 466 Training Exercises on Iwo Jima, March 1954................ 469 Marines From Camp Lejeune................................. 470 Lt. Col. Frank E. Petersen, Jr............................ 471 Sergeant Major Edgar R. Huff.............................. 472 Clarence Mitchell......................................... 475 Congressman Adam Clayton Powell........................... 484 Secretary of the Navy Robert B. Anderson.................. 486 Reading Class in the Military Dependents School, Yokohama. 495 Civil Rights Leaders at the White House................... 503 President John F. Kennedy and President Jorge Allessandri. 509 (p. xix) Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara................... 516 Adam Yarmolinsky.......................................... 532 James C. Evans............................................ 533 The Gesell Committee Meets With the President............. 541 Alfred B. Fitt............................................ 547 Arriving in Vietnam....................................... 560 Digging In................................................ 562 Listening to the Squad Leader............................. 567 Supplying the Seventh Fleet............................... 576 USAF Ground Crew, Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Vietnam.......... 580 Fighter Pilots on the Line................................ 583 Medical Examination....................................... 589 Auto Pilot Shop........................................... 594 Submarine Tender Duty..................................... 600 First Aid................................................. 606 Vietnam Patrol............................................ 611 Marine Engineers in Vietnam............................... 613 Loading a Rocket Launcher................................. 615 American Sailors Help Evacuate a Vietnamese Child......... 618 Booby Trap Victim from Company B, 47th Infantry........... 619 Camaraderie............................................... 622

All illustrations are from the files of the Department of Defense and the National Archives and Records Service with the exception of the pictures on pages 6 and 10, courtesy of William G. Bell; on page 20, by Fabian Bachrach, courtesy of Judge William H. Hastie; on page 120, courtesy of Carlton Skinner; on page 297, courtesy of the Washington Star, on page 361, courtesy of the Afro-American Newspapers; on page 377, courtesy of the Sengstacke Newspapers; and on page 475, courtesy of the Washington Bureau of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Tables

No.

1. Classification of All Men Tested From March 1941 Through December 1942........................................... 25 2. AGCT Percentages in Selected World War II Divisions.... 138 3. Percentage of Black Enlisted Men and Women............. 395 4. Disposition of Black Personnel at Eight Air Force Bases, 1949............................................ 403 5. Racial Composition of Air Force Units.................. 404 6. Black Strength in the Air Force........................ 405 7. Racial Composition of the Training Command, December 1949.......................................... 406 8. Black Manpower, U.S. Navy.............................. 416 (p. xx) 9. Worldwide Distribution of Enlisted Personnel by Race, October 1952........................................... 458 10. Distribution of Black Enlisted Personnel by Branch and Rank, 31 October 1952............................. 458 11. Black Marines, 1949-1955.............................. 463 12. Defense Installations With Segregated Public Schools.. 491 13. Black Strength in the Armed Forces for Selected Years. 522 14. Estimated Percentage Distribution of Draft-Age Males in U.S. Population by AFQT Groups............... 523 15. Rate of Men Disqualified for Service in 1962.......... 523 16. Rejection Rates for Failure To Pass Armed Forces Mental Test, 1962..................................... 524 17. Nonwhite Inductions and First Enlistments, Fiscal Years 1953-1962....................................... 525 18. Distribution of Enlisted Personnel in Each Major Occupation, 1956...................................... 525 19. Occupational Group Distribution by Race, All DOD, 1962.................................................. 525 20. Occupational Group Distribution of Enlisted Personnel by Length of Service, and Race.............. 526 21. Percentage Distribution of Navy Enlisted Personnel by Race, AFQT Groups and Occupational Areas, and Length of Service, 1962............................... 526 22. Percentage Distribution of Blacks and Whites by Pay Grade, All DOD, 1962.................................. 527 23. Percentage Distribution of Navy Enlisted Personnel by Race, AFQT Groups, Pay Grade, and Length of Service, 1962......................................... 528 24. Black Percentages, 1962-1968.......................... 568 25. Rates for First Reenlistments, 1964-1967.............. 569 26. Black Attendance at the Military Academies, July 1968. 569 27. Army and Air Force Commissions Granted at Predominately Black Schools........................... 570 28. Percentage of Negroes in Certain Military Ranks, 1964-1966............................................. 571 29. Distribution of Servicemen in Occupational Groups by Race, 1967......................................... 573



INTEGRATION OF THE ARMED FORCES (p. 001) 1940-1965



CHAPTER 1 (p. 003)

Introduction

In the quarter century that followed American entry into World War II, the nation's armed forces moved from the reluctant inclusion of a few segregated Negroes to their routine acceptance in a racially integrated military establishment. Nor was this change confined to military installations. By the time it was over, the armed forces had redefined their traditional obligation for the welfare of their members to include a promise of equal treatment for black servicemen wherever they might be. In the name of equality of treatment and opportunity, the Department of Defense began to challenge racial injustices deeply rooted in American society.

For all its sweeping implications, equality in the armed forces obviously had its pragmatic aspects. In one sense it was a practical answer to pressing political problems that had plagued several national administrations. In another, it was the services' expression of those liberalizing tendencies that were permeating American society during the era of civil rights activism. But to a considerable extent the policy of racial equality that evolved in this quarter century was also a response to the need for military efficiency. So easy did it become to demonstrate the connection between inefficiency and discrimination that, even when other reasons existed, military efficiency was the one most often evoked by defense officials to justify a change in racial policy.

The Armed Forces Before 1940

Progress toward equal treatment and opportunity in the armed forces was an uneven process, the result of sporadic and sometimes conflicting pressures derived from such constants in American society as prejudice and idealism and spurred by a chronic shortage of military manpower. In his pioneering study of race relations, Gunnar Myrdal observes that ideals have always played a dominant role in the social dynamics of America.[1-1] By extension, the ideals that helped involve the nation in many of its wars also helped produce important changes in the treatment of Negroes by the armed forces. The democratic spirit embodied in the Declaration of Independence, for example, opened the Continental Army to many Negroes, holding out to them the promise of eventual freedom.[1-2]

[Footnote 1-1: Gunnar Myrdal, The American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, rev. ed. (New York: Harper Row, 1962), p. lxi.]

[Footnote 1-2: Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1961), pp. 182-85. The following brief summary of the Negro in the pre-World War II Army is based in part on the Quarles book and Roland C. McConnell, Negro Troops of Antebellum Louisiana: A History of the Battalion of Free Men of Color (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1968); Dudley T. Cornish, Sable Arm: Negro Troops in the Union Army, 1861-1865 (New York: Norton, 1966); William H. Leckie, The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1969); William Bruce White, "The Military and the Melting Pot: The American Army and Minority Groups, 1865-1924" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1968); Marvin E. Fletcher, The Black Soldier and Officer in the United States Army, 1891-1917 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1974); Arthur E. Barbeau and Florette Henri, Unknown Soldiers: Black American Troops in World War I (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1974). For a general survey of black soldiers in America's wars, see Jack Foner, Blacks and the Military in American History: A New Perspective (New York: Praeger, 1974).]

Yet the fact that the British themselves were taking large numbers (p. 004) of Negroes into their ranks proved more important than revolutionary idealism in creating a place for Negroes in the American forces. Above all, the participation of both slaves and freedmen in the Continental Army and the Navy was a pragmatic response to a pressing need for fighting men and laborers. Despite the fear of slave insurrection shared by many colonists, some 5,000 Negroes, the majority from New England, served with the American forces in the Revolution, often in integrated units, some as artillerymen and musicians, the majority as infantrymen or as unarmed pioneers detailed to repair roads and bridges.

Again, General Jackson's need for manpower at New Orleans explains the presence of the Louisiana Free Men of Color in the last great battle of the War of 1812. In the Civil War the practical needs of the Union Army overcame the Lincoln administration's fear of alienating the border states. When the call for volunteers failed to produce the necessary men, Negroes were recruited, generally as laborers at first but later for combat. In all, 186,000 Negroes served in the Union Army. In addition to those in the sixteen segregated combat regiments and the labor units, thousands also served unofficially as laborers, teamsters, and cooks. Some 30,000 Negroes served in the Navy, about 25 percent of its total Civil War strength.

The influence of the idealism fostered by the abolitionist crusade should not be overlooked. It made itself felt during the early months of the war in the demands of Radical Republicans and some Union generals for black enrollment, and it brought about the postwar establishment of black units in the Regular Army. In 1866 Congress authorized the creation of permanent, all-black units, which in 1869 were designated the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry.



Military needs and idealistic impulses were not enough to guarantee uninterrupted racial progress; in fact, the status of black servicemen tended to reflect the changing patterns in American race relations. During most of the nineteenth century, for example, Negroes served in an integrated U.S. Navy, in the latter half of the century averaging between 20 and 30 percent of the enlisted strength.[1-3] But the employment of Negroes in the Navy was abruptly curtailed after 1900. Paralleling the rise of Jim Crow and legalized segregation (p. 005) in much of America was the cutback in the number of black sailors, who by 1909 were mostly in the galley and the engine room. In contrast to their high percentage of the ranks in the Civil War and Spanish-American War, only 6,750 black sailors, including twenty-four women reservists (yeomanettes), served in World War I; they constituted 1.2 percent of the Navy's total enlistment.[1-4] Their service was limited chiefly to mess duty and coal passing, the latter becoming increasingly rare as the fleet changed from coal to oil.

[Footnote 1-3: Estimates vary; exact racial statistics concerning the nineteenth century Navy are difficult to locate. See Enlistment of Men of Colored Race, 23 Jan 42, a note appended to Hearings Before the General Board of the Navy, 1942, Operational Archives, Department of the Navy (hereafter OpNavArchives). The following brief summary of the Negro in the pre-World War II Navy is based in part on Foner's Blacks and the Military in American History as well as Harold D. Langley, "The Negro in the Navy and Merchant Service, 1798-1860," Journal of Negro History 52 (October 1967):273-86; Langley's Social Reform in the United States Navy 1798-1862, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1967) Peter Karsten, The Naval Aristocracy: The Golden Age of Annapolis and the Emergence of Modern American Navalism (New York: The Free Press, 1972); Frederick S. Harrod, Manning the New Navy: The Development of a Modern Naval Enlisted Force, 1899-1940 (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1978).]

[Footnote 1-4: Ltr, Rear Adm C. W. Nimitz, Actg Chief, Bureau of Navigation, to Rep. Hamilton Fish, 17 Jun 37, A9-10, General Records of the Department of the Navy (hereafter GenRecsNav).]



When postwar enlistment was resumed in 1923, the Navy recruited Filipino stewards instead of Negroes, although a decade later it reopened the branch to black enlistment. Negroes quickly took advantage of this limited opportunity, their numbers rising from 441 in 1932 to 4,007 in June 1940, when they constituted 2.3 percent of the Navy's 170,000 total.[1-5] Curiously enough, because black (p. 006) reenlistment in combat or technical specialties had never been barred, a few black gunner's mates, torpedomen, machinist mates, and the like continued to serve in the 1930's.

[Footnote 1-5: Memo, H. A. Badt, Bureau of Navigation, for Officer in Charge, Public Relations, 24 Jul 40, sub: Negroes in U.S. Navy, Nav-641, Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel (hereafter BuPersRecs).]

Although the Army's racial policy differed from the Navy's, the resulting limited, separate service for Negroes proved similar. The laws of 1866 and 1869 that guaranteed the existence of four black Regular Army regiments also institutionalized segregation, granting federal recognition to a system racially separate and theoretically equal in treatment and opportunity a generation before the Supreme Court sanctioned such a distinction in Plessy v. Ferguson.[1-6] So important to many in the black community was this guaranteed existence of the four regiments that had served with distinction against the frontier Indians that few complained about segregation. In fact, as historian Jack Foner has pointed out, black leaders sometimes interpreted demands for integration as attempts to eliminate black soldiers altogether.[1-7]

[Footnote 1-6: 163 U.S. 537 (1896). In this 1896 case concerning segregated seating on a Louisiana railroad, the Supreme Court ruled that so long as equality of accommodation existed, segregation could not in itself be considered discriminatory and therefore did not violate the equal rights provision of the Fourteenth Amendment. This "separate but equal" doctrine would prevail in American law for more than half a century.]

[Footnote 1-7: Foner, Blacks and the Military in American History, p. 66.]

The Spanish-American War marked a break with the post-Civil War tradition of limited recruitment. Besides the 3,339 black regulars, approximately 10,000 black volunteers served in the Army during (p. 007) the conflict. World War I was another exception, for Negroes made up nearly 11 percent of the Army's total strength, some 404,000 officers and men.[1-8] The acceptance of Negroes during wartime stemmed from the Army's pressing need for additional manpower. Yet it was no means certain in the early months of World War I that this need for men would prevail over the reluctance of many leaders to arm large groups of Negroes. Still remembered were the 1906 Brownsville affair, in which men of the 25th Infantry had fired on Texan civilians, and the August 1917 riot involving members of the 24th Infantry at Houston, Texas.[1-9] Ironically, those idealistic impulses that had operated in earlier wars were operating again in this most Jim Crow of administrations.[1-10] Woodrow Wilson's promise to make the world safe for democracy was forcing his administration to admit Negroes to the Army. Although it carefully maintained racially separate draft calls, the National Army conscripted some 368,000 Negroes, 13.08 percent of all those drafted in World War I.[1-11]

[Footnote 1-8: Ulysses Lee, The Employment of Negro Troops, United States Army in World War II (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1966), p. 5. See also Army War College Historical Section, "The Colored Soldier in the U.S. Army," May 1942, p. 22, copy in CMH.]

[Footnote 1-9: For a modern analysis of the two incidents and the effect of Jim Crow on black units before World War I, see John D. Weaver, The Brownsville Raid (New York: W. W. Norton Co., 1970); Robert V. Haynes, A Night of Violence: The Houston Riot of 1917 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1976).]

[Footnote 1-10: On the racial attitudes of the Wilson administration, see Nancy J. Weiss, "The Negro and the New Freedom: Fighting Wilsonian Segregation," Political Science Quarterly 84 (March 1969):61-79.]

[Footnote 1-11: Special Report of the Provost Marshal General on Operations of the Selective Service System to December 1918 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1919), p. 193.]

Black assignments reflected the opinion, expressed repeatedly in Army staff studies throughout the war, that when properly led by whites, blacks could perform reasonably well in segregated units. Once again Negroes were called on to perform a number of vital though unskilled jobs, such as construction work, most notably in sixteen specially formed pioneer infantry regiments. But they also served as frontline combat troops in the all-black 92d and 93d Infantry Divisions, the latter serving with distinction among the French forces.

Established by law and tradition and reinforced by the Army staff's conviction that black troops had not performed well in combat, segregation survived to flourish in the postwar era.[1-12] The familiar practice of maintaining a few black units was resumed in the Regular Army, with the added restriction that Negroes were totally excluded from the Air Corps. The postwar manpower retrenchments common to all Regular Army units further reduced the size of the remaining black units. By June 1940 the number of Negroes on active duty stood at approximately 4,000 men, 1.5 percent of the Army's total, about the same proportion as Negroes in the Navy.[1-13]

[Footnote 1-12: The development of post-World War I policy is discussed in considerable detail in Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, Chapters I and II. See also U.S. Army War College Miscellaneous File 127-1 through 127-23 and 127-27, U.S. Army Military History Research Collection, Carlisle Barracks (hereafter AMHRC).]

[Footnote 1-13: The 1940 strength figure is extrapolated from Misc Div, AGO, Returns Sec, 9 Oct 39-30 Nov 41. The figures do not include some 3,000 Negroes in National Guard units under state control.]

Civil Rights and the Law in 1940 (p. 008)

The same constants in American society that helped decide the status of black servicemen in the nineteenth century remained influential between the world wars, but with a significant change.[1-14] Where once the advancing fortunes of Negroes in the services depended almost exclusively on the good will of white progressives, their welfare now became the concern of a new generation of black leaders and emerging civil rights organizations. Skilled journalists in the black press and counselors and lobbyists presenting such groups as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Urban League, and the National Negro Congress took the lead in the fight for racial justice in the United States. They represented a black community that for the most part lacked the cohesion, political awareness, and economic strength which would characterize it in the decades to come. Nevertheless, Negroes had already become a recognizable political force in some parts of the country. Both the New Deal politicians and their opponents openly courted the black vote in the 1940 presidential election.

[Footnote 1-14: This discussion of civil rights in the pre-World War II period draws not only on Lee's Employment of Negro Troops, but also on Lee Finkle, Forum for Protest: The Black Press During World War II (Cranbury: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1975); Harvard Sitkoff, "Racial Militancy and Interracial Violence in the Second World War," Journal of American History 58 (December 1971):661-81; Reinhold Schumann, "The Role of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the Integration of the Armed Forces According to the NAACP Collection in the Library of Congress" (1971), in CMH; Richard M. Dalfiume, Desegregation of the United States Armed Forces: Fighting on Two Fronts, 1939-1953 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1969).]

These politicians realized that the United States was beginning to outgrow its old racial relationships over which Jim Crow had reigned, either by law or custom, for more than fifty years. In large areas of the country where lynchings and beatings were commonplace, white supremacy had existed as a literal fact of life and death.[1-15] More insidious than the Jim Crow laws were the economic deprivation and dearth of educational opportunity associated with racial discrimination. Traditionally the last hired, first fired, Negroes suffered all the handicaps that came from unemployment and poor jobs, a condition further aggravated by the Great Depression. The "separate but equal" educational system dictated by law and the realities of black life in both urban and rural areas, north and south, had proved anything but equal and thus closed to Negroes a traditional avenue to advancement in American society.

[Footnote 1-15: The Jim Crow era is especially well described in Rayford W. Logan's The Negro in American Life and Thought: The Nadir, 1877-1901 (New York: Dial, 1954) and C. Vann Woodward's The Strange Career of Jim Crow, 3d ed. rev. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974)]

In these circumstances, the economic and humanitarian programs of the New Deal had a special appeal for black America. Encouraged by these programs and heartened by Eleanor Roosevelt's public support of civil rights, black voters defected from their traditional allegiance to the Republican Party in overwhelming numbers. But the civil rights leaders were already aware, if the average black citizen was not, that despite having made some considerable improvements Franklin Roosevelt never, in one biographer's words, "sufficiently challenged Southern (p. 009) traditions of white supremacy to create problems for himself."[1-16] Negroes, in short, might benefit materially from the New Deal, but they would have to look elsewhere for advancement of their civil rights.

[Footnote 1-16: Frank Freidel, F.D.R. and the South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1965), pp. 71-102. See also Bayard Rustin, Strategies for Freedom: The Changing Patterns of Black Protest (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), p. 16.]

Men like Walter F. White of the NAACP and the National Urban League's T. Arnold Hill sought to use World War II to expand opportunities for the black American. From the start they tried to translate the idealistic sentiment for democracy stimulated by the war and expressed in the Atlantic Charter into widespread support for civil rights in the United States. At the same time, in sharp contrast to many of their World War I predecessors, they placed a price on black support for the war effort: no longer could the White House expect this sizable minority to submit to injustice and yet close ranks with other Americans to defeat a common enemy. It was readily apparent to the Negro, if not to his white supporter or his enemy, that winning equality at home was just as important as advancing the cause of freedom abroad. As George S. Schuyler, a widely quoted black columnist, put it: "If nothing more comes out of this emergency than the widespread understanding among white leaders that the Negro's loyalty is conditional, we shall not have suffered in vain."[1-17] The NAACP spelled out the challenge even more clearly in its monthly publication, The Crisis, which declared itself "sorry for brutality, blood, and death among the peoples of Europe, just as we were sorry for China and Ethiopia. But the hysterical cries of the preachers of democracy for Europe leave us cold. We want democracy in Alabama, Arkansas, in Mississippi and Michigan, in the District of Columbia—in the Senate of the United States."[1-18]

[Footnote 1-17: Pittsburgh Courier, December 21, 1940.]

[Footnote 1-18: The Crisis 47 (July 1940):209.]

This sentiment crystallized in the black press's Double V campaign, a call for simultaneous victories over Jim Crow at home and fascism abroad. Nor was the Double V campaign limited to a small group of civil rights spokesmen; rather, it reflected a new mood that, as Myrdal pointed out, was permeating all classes of black society.[1-19] The quickening of the black masses in the cause of equal treatment and opportunity in the pre-World War II period and the willingness of Negroes to adopt a more militant course to achieve this end might well mark the beginning of the modern civil rights movement.

[Footnote 1-19: Myrdal, American Dilemma, p. 744.]



Historian Lee Finkle has suggested that the militancy advocated by most of the civil rights leaders in the World War II era was merely a rhetorical device; that for the most part they sought to avoid violence over segregation, concentrating as before on traditional methods of protest.[1-20] This reliance on traditional methods was apparent when the leaders tried to focus the new sentiment among Negroes on two war-related goals: equality of treatment in the armed forces and equality of job opportunity in the expanding defense industries. In 1938 the Pittsburgh Courier, the largest and one (p. 010) of the most influential of the nation's black papers, called upon the President to open the services to Negroes and organized the Committee for Negro Participation in the National Defense Program. These moves led to an extensive lobbying effort that in time spread to many other newspapers and local civil rights groups. The black press and its satellites also attracted the support of several national organizations that were promoting preparedness for war, and these groups, in turn, began to demand equal treatment and opportunity in the armed forces.[1-21]

[Footnote 1-20: Lee Finkle, "The Conservative Aims of Militant Rhetoric: Black Protest During World War II," Journal of American History 60 (December 1973):693.]

[Footnote 1-21: Some impression of the extent of this campaign and its effect on the War Department can be gained from the volume of correspondence produced by the Pittsburgh Courier campaign and filed in AG 322.99 (2-23-38)(1).]

The government began to respond to these pressures before the United States entered World War II. At the urging of the White House the Army announced plans for the mobilization of Negroes, and Congress amended several mobilization measures to define and increase the military training opportunities for Negroes.[1-22] The most important of these legislative amendments in terms of influence on future race relations in the United States were made to the Selective Service Act of 1940. The matter of race played only a small part in the debate on this highly controversial legislation, but during congressional hearings on the bill black spokesmen testified on discrimination against Negroes in the services.[1-23] These witnesses concluded that if the draft law did not provide specific guarantees against it, discrimination would prevail.

[Footnote 1-22: The Army's plans and amendments are treated in great detail in Lee, Employment of Negro Troops.]

[Footnote 1-23: Hearings Before the Committee on Military Affairs. House of Representatives, 76th Cong., 3d sess., on H.R. 10132, Selective Compulsory Military Training and Service, pp. 585-90.]



A majority in both houses of Congress seemed to agree. During (p. 011) floor debate on the Selective Service Act, Senator Robert F. Wagner of New York proposed an amendment to guarantee to Negroes and other racial minorities the privilege of voluntary enlistment in the armed forces. He sought in this fashion to correct evils described some ten days earlier by Rayford W. Logan, chairman of the Committee for Negro Participation in the National Defense, in testimony before the House Committee on Military Affairs. The Wagner proposal triggered critical comments and questions. Senators John H. Overton and Allen J. Ellender of Louisiana viewed the Wagner amendment as a step toward "mixed" units. Overton, Ellender, and Senator Lister Hill of Alabama proposed that the matter should be "left to the Army." Hill also attacked the amendment because it would allow the enlistment of Japanese-Americans, some of whom he claimed were not loyal to the United States.[1-24]

[Footnote 1-24: Congressional Record, 76th Cong., 3d sess., vol. 86, p. 10890.]



No filibuster was attempted, and the Wagner amendment passed the Senate easily, 53 to 21. It provided

that any person between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five regardless of race or color shall be afforded an opportunity voluntarily to enlist and be inducted into the land and naval forces (including aviation units) of the United States for the training and service prescribed in subsection (b), if he is acceptable to the land or naval forces for such training and service.[1-25]

[Footnote 1-25: 54 U.S. Stat. 885(1940).]

The Wagner amendment was aimed at volunteers for military service. Congressman Hamilton Fish, also of New York, later introduced a similar measure in the House aimed at draftees. The Fish (p. 012) amendment passed the House by a margin of 121 to 99 and emerged intact from the House-Senate conference. The law finally read that in the selection and training of men and execution of the law "there shall be no discrimination against any person on account of race or color."[1-26]

[Footnote 1-26: Ibid. Fish commanded black troops in World War I. Captain of Company K, Fifteenth New York National Guard (Colored), which subsequently became the 369th Infantry, Fish served in the much decorated 93d Division in the French sector of the Western Front.]



The Fish amendment had little immediate impact upon the services' racial patterns. As long as official policy permitted separate draft calls for blacks and whites and the officially held definition of discrimination neatly excluded segregation—and both went unchallenged in the courts—segregation would remain entrenched in the armed forces. Indeed, the rigidly segregated services, their ranks swollen by the draft, were a particular frustration to the civil rights forces because they were introducing some black citizens to racial discrimination more pervasive than any they had ever endured in civilian life. Moreover, as the services continued to open bases throughout the country, they actually spread federally sponsored segregation into areas where it had never before existed with the force of law. In the long run, however, the 1940 draft law and subsequent draft legislation had a strong influence on the armed forces' racial policies. They created a climate in which progress could be made toward integration within the services. Although not apparent in 1940, the pressure of a draft-induced flood of black (p. 013) conscripts was to be a principal factor in the separate decisions of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps to integrate their units.

To Segregate Is To Discriminate

As with all the administration's prewar efforts to increase opportunities for Negroes in the armed forces, the Selective Service Act failed to excite black enthusiasm because it missed the point of black demands. Guarantees of black participation were no longer enough. By 1940 most responsible black leaders shared the goal of an integrated armed forces as a step toward full participation in the benefits and responsibilities of American citizenship.

The White House may well have thought that Walter White of the NAACP singlehandedly organized the demand for integration in 1939, but he was merely applying a concept of race relations that had been evolving since World War I. In the face of ever-worsening discrimination, White's generation of civil rights advocates had rejected the idea of the preeminent black leader Booker T. Washington that hope for the future lay in the development of a separate and strong black (p. 014) community. Instead, they gradually came to accept the argument of one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, William E. B. DuBois, that progress was possible only when Negroes abandoned their segregated community to work toward a society open to both black and white. By the end of the 1930's this concept had produced a fundamental change in civil rights tactics and created the new mood of assertiveness that Myrdal found in the black community. The work of White and others marked the beginning of a systematic attack against Jim Crow. As the most obvious practitioner of Jim Crow in the federal government, the services were the logical target for the first battle in a conflict that would last some thirty years.

This evolution in black attitudes was clearly demonstrated in correspondence in the 1930's between officials of the NAACP and the Roosevelt administration over equal treatment in the armed forces. The discussion began in 1934 with a series of exchanges between Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur and NAACP Counsel Charles H. Houston and continued through the correspondence between White and the administration in 1937. The NAACP representatives rejected MacArthur's defense of Army policy and held out for a quota guaranteeing that Negroes would form at least 10 percent of the nation's military strength. Their emphasis throughout was on numbers; during these first exchanges, at least, they fought against disbandment of the existing black regiments and argued for similar units throughout the service.[1-27]

[Footnote 1-27: See especially Ltr, Houston to CofS, 1 Aug and 29 Aug 34; Ltr, CofS to Houston, 20 Aug 34; Ltr, Maj Gen Edgar T. Conley, Actg AG, USA, to Walter White, 25 Nov 35; Ltr, Houston to Roosevelt, 8 Oct 37; Ltr, Houston to SW, 8 Oct 37. See also Elijah Reynolds, Colored Soldiers and the Regular Army (NAACP Pamphlet, December 10, 1934). All in C-376, NAACP Collection, Library of Congress.]

Yet the idea of integration was already strongly implied in Houston's 1934 call for "a more united nation of free citizens,"[1-28] and in February 1937 the organization emphasized the idea in an editorial in The Crisis, asking why black and white men could not fight side by side as they had in the Continental Army.[1-29] And when the Army informed the NAACP in September 1939 that more black units were projected for mobilization, White found this solution unsatisfactory because the proposed units would be segregated.[1-30] If democracy was to be defended, he told the President, discrimination must be eliminated from the armed forces. To this end, the NAACP urged Roosevelt to appoint a commission of black and white citizens to investigate discrimination in the Army and Navy and to recommend the removal of racial barriers.[1-31]

[Footnote 1-28: Ibid. Ltr, Houston to CofS, 1 Aug 34.]

[Footnote 1-29: The Crisis 46 (1939):49, 241, 337.]

[Footnote 1-30: Ltr, Presley Holliday to White, 11 Sep 39; Ltr, White to Holliday, 15 Sep 39. Both in C-376, NAACP Collection, LC.]

[Footnote 1-31: Ltr, White to Roosevelt, 15 Sep 39, in C-376, NAACP Collection, LC. This letter was later released to the press.]

The White House ignored these demands, and on 17 October the secretary to the President, Col. Edwin M. Watson, referred White to a War Department report outlining the new black units being created under presidential authorization. But the NAACP leaders were not to be diverted from the main chance. Thurgood Marshall, then the head of (p. 015) the organization's legal department, recommended that White tell the President "that the NAACP is opposed to the separate units existing in the armed forces at the present time."[1-32]

[Footnote 1-32: Memo, Marshall for White, 28 Oct 39; Ltr, Secy to the President to White, 17 Oct 39. Both in C-376, NAACP Collection, LC.]

When his associates failed to agree on a reply to the administration, White decided on a face-to-face meeting with the President.[1-33] Roosevelt agreed to confer with White, Hill of the Urban League, and A. Philip Randolph, head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the session finally taking place on 27 September 1940. At that time the civil rights officials outlined for the President and his defense assistants what they called the "important phases of the integration of the Negro into military aspects of the national defense program." Central to their argument was the view that the Army and Navy should accept men without regard to race. According to White, the President had apparently never considered the use of integrated units, but after some discussion he seemed to accept the suggestion that the Army could assign black regiments or batteries alongside white units and from there "the Army could 'back into' the formation of units without segregation."[1-34]

[Footnote 1-33: Memo, White for Roy Wilkins et al., Oct 39; Ltr, Houston to White, Oct 39; Memo, Wilkins to White, 23 Oct 39. All in C-376, NAACP Collection, LC.]

[Footnote 1-34: Walter White, "Conference at White House, Friday, September 27, 11:35 A.M.," Arthur B. Spingarn Papers, Library of Congress. See also White's A Man Called White (New York: Viking Press, 1948), pp. 186-87.]

Nothing came of these suggestions. Although the policy announced by the White House subsequent to the meeting contained concessions regarding the employment and distribution of Negroes in the services, it did not provide for integrated units. The wording of the press release on the conference implied, moreover, that the administration's entire program had been approved by White and the others. To have their names associated with any endorsement of segregation was particularly infuriating to these civil rights leaders, who immediately protested to the President.[1-35] The White House later publicly absolved the leaders of any such endorsement, and Press Secretary Early was forced to retract the "damaging impression" that the leaders had in any way endorsed segregation. The President later assured White, Randolph, and Hill that further policy changes would be made to insure fair treatment for Negroes.[1-36]

[Footnote 1-35: Ltr, White to Stephen Early, 21 Oct 40. See also Memo, White for R. S. W. [Roy Wilkins], 18 Oct 40. Both in C-376, NAACP Collection, LC. See also Ltr, S. Early to White, 18 Oct 40, Incl to Ltr, White to Spingarn, 24 Oct 40, Spingarn Papers, LC.]

[Footnote 1-36: White, A Man Called White, pp. 187-88.]

Presidential promises notwithstanding, the NAACP set out to make integration of the services a matter of overriding interest to the black community during the war. The organization encountered opposition at first when some black leaders were willing to accept segregated units as the price for obtaining the formation of more all-black divisions. The NAACP stood firm, however, and demanded at its annual convention in 1941 an immediate end to segregation.

In a related move symbolizing the growing unity behind the campaign to integrate the military, the leaders of the March on Washington Movement, a group of black activists under A. Philip Randolph, (p. 016) specifically demanded the end of segregation in the Army and Navy. The movement was the first since the days of Marcus Garvey to involve the black masses; in fact Negroes from every social and economic class rallied behind Randolph, ready to demonstrate for equal treatment and opportunity. Although some black papers objected to the movement's militancy, the major civil rights organization showed no such hesitancy. Roy Wilkins, a leader of the NAACP, later claimed that Randolph could supply only about 9,000 potential demonstrators and that the NAACP had provided the bulk of the movement's participants.[1-37]

[Footnote 1-37: Roy Wilkins Oral History Interview, Columbia University Oral History Collection. See also A. Philip Randolph, "Why Should We March," Survey Graphic 31 (November 1942), as reprinted in John H. Franklin and Isidore Starr, eds., The Negro in Twentieth Century America (New York: Random House, 1967).]

Although Randolph was primarily interested in fair employment practices, the NAACP had been concerned with the status of black servicemen since World War I. Reflecting the degree of NAACP support, march organizers included a discussion of segregation in the services when they talked with President Roosevelt in June 1941. Randolph and the others proposed ways to abolish the separate racial units in each service, charging that integration was being frustrated by prejudiced senior military officials.[1-38]

[Footnote 1-38: White, A Man Called White, pp. 190-93.]

The President's meeting with the march leaders won the administration a reprieve from the threat of a mass civil rights demonstration in the nation's capital, but at the price of promising substantial reform in minority hiring for defense industries and the creation of a federal body, the Fair Employment Practices Committee, to coordinate the reform. While it prompted no similar reform in the racial policies of the armed forces, the March on Washington Movement was nevertheless a significant milestone in the services' racial history.[1-39] It signaled the beginning of a popularly based campaign against segregation in the armed forces in which all the major civil rights organizations, their allies in Congress and the press, and many in the black community would hammer away on a single theme: segregation is unacceptable in a democratic society and hypocritical during a war fought in defense of the four freedoms.

[Footnote 1-39: Herbert Garfinkle, When Negroes March: The March on Washington Movement in the Organizational Politics of FEPC (Glencoe: The Free Press, 1959), provides a comprehensive account of the aims and achievements of the movement.]



CHAPTER 2 (p. 017)

World War II: The Army

Civil rights leaders adopted the "Double V" slogan as their rallying cry during World War II. Demanding victory against fascism abroad and discrimination at home, they exhorted black citizens to support the war effort and to fight for equal treatment and opportunity for Negroes everywhere. Although segregation was their main target, their campaign was directed against all forms of discrimination, especially in the armed forces. They flooded the services with appeals for a redress of black grievances and levied similar demands on the White House, Congress, and the courts.

Black leaders concentrated on the services because they were public institutions, their officials sworn to uphold the Constitution. The leaders understood, too, that disciplinary powers peculiar to the services enabled them to make changes that might not be possible for other organizations; the armed forces could command where others could only persuade. The Army bore the brunt of this attention, but not because its policies were so benighted. In 1941 the Army was a fairly progressive organization, and few institutions in America could match its record. Rather, the civil rights leaders concentrated on the Army because the draft law had made it the nation's largest employer of minority groups.

For its part, the Army resisted the demands, its spokesmen contending that the service's enormous size and power should not be used for social experiment, especially during a war. Further justifying their position, Army officials pointed out that their service had to avoid conflict with prevailing social attitudes, particularly when such attitudes were jealously guarded by Congress. In this period of continuous demand and response, the Army developed a racial policy that remained in effect throughout the war with only superficial modifications sporadically adopted to meet changing conditions.

A War Policy: Reaffirming Segregation

The experience of World War I cast a shadow over the formation of the Army's racial policy in World War II.[2-1] The chief architects of the new policy, and many of its opponents, were veterans of the first war and reflected in their judgments the passions and prejudices of that era.[2-2] Civil rights activists were determined to eliminate the (p. 018) segregationist practices of the 1917 mobilization and to win a fair representation for Negroes in the Army. The traditionalists of the Army staff, on the other hand, were determined to resist any radical change in policy. Basing their arguments on their evaluation of the performance of the 92d Division and some other black units in World War I, they had made, but not publicized, mobilization plans that recognized the Army's obligation to employ black soldiers yet rigidly maintained the segregationist policy of World War I.[2-3] These plans increased the number of types of black units to be formed and even provided for a wide distribution of the units among all the arms and services except the Army Air Forces and Signal Corps, but they did not explain how the skilled Negro, whose numbers had greatly increased since World War I, could be efficiently used within the limitations of black units. In the name of military efficiency the Army staff had, in effect, devised a social rather than a military policy for the employment of black troops.

[Footnote 2-1: This survey of the Army and the Negro in World War II is based principally on Lee's Employment of Negro Troops. A comprehensive account of the development of policy, the mobilization of black soldiers, and their use in the various theaters and units of World War II, this book is an indispensable source for any serious student of the subject.]

[Footnote 2-2: For examples of how World War I military experiences affected the thinking of the civil rights advocates and military traditionalists of World War II, see Lester B. Granger Oral History Interview, 1960, Columbia University Oral History Collection; Interview, Lee Nichols with Lt. Gen. John C. H. Lee (c. 1953). For the influence of World War II on a major contributor to postwar racial policy, see Interview, Lee Nichols with Harry S. Truman, 24 Jun 53. Last two in Nichols Collection, CMH. These interviews are among many compiled by Nichols as part of his program associated with the production of Breakthrough on the Color Front (New York: Random House, 1954). Nichols, a journalist, presented this collection of interviews, along with other documents and materials, to the Center of Military History in 1972. The interviews have proved to be a valuable supplement to the official record. They capture the thoughts of a number of important participants, some no longer alive, at a time relatively close to the events under consideration. They have been checked against the sources whenever possible and found accurate.]

[Footnote 2-3: Memo, ACofS, G-3, for CofS, 3 Jun 40, sub: Employment of Negro Manpower, G-3/6541-527.]

The White House tried to adjust the conflicting demands of the civil rights leaders and the Army traditionalists. Eager to placate and willing to compromise, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought an accommodation by directing the War Department to provide jobs for Negroes in all parts of the Army. The controversy over integration soon became more public, the opponents less reconcilable; in the weeks following the President's meeting with black representatives on 27 September 1940 the Army countered black demands for integration with a statement released by the White House on 9 October. To provide "a fair and equitable basis" for the use of Negroes in its expansion program, the Army planned to accept Negroes in numbers approximate to their proportion in the national population, about 10 percent. Black officers and enlisted men were to serve, as was then customary, only in black units that were to be formed in each major branch, both combatant and noncombatant, including air units to be created as soon as pilots, mechanics, and technical specialists were trained. There would be no racial intermingling in regimental organizations because the practice of separating white and black troops had, the Army staff said, proved satisfactory over a long period of time. To change would destroy morale and impair preparations for national defense. Since black units in the Army were already "going concerns, accustomed through many years to the present system" of segregation, "no experiments should be tried ... at this critical time."[2-4]

[Footnote 2-4: Memo, TAG for CG's et al., 16 Oct 40, sub: War Department Policy in Regard to Negroes, AG 291.21 (10-9-40) M-A-M.]

The President's "OK, F.D.R." on the War Department statement (p. 019) transformed what had been a routine prewar mobilization plan into a racial policy that would remain in effect throughout the war. In fact, quickly elevated in importance by War Department spokesmen who made constant reference to the "Presidential Directive," the statement would be used by some Army officials as a presidential sanction for introducing segregation in new situations, as, for example, in the pilot training of black officers in the Army Air Corps. Just as quickly, the civil rights leaders, who had expected more from the tone of the President's own comments and more also from the egalitarian implications of the new draft law, bitterly attacked the Army's policy.

Black criticism came at an awkward moment for President Roosevelt, who was entering a heated campaign for an unprecedented third term and whose New Deal coalition included the urban black vote. His opponent, the articulate Wendell L. Willkie, was an unabashed champion of civil rights and was reportedly attracting a wide following among black voters. In the weeks preceding the election the President tried to soften the effect of the Army's announcement. He promoted Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., to brigadier general, thereby making Davis the first Negro to hold this rank in the Regular Army. He appointed the commander of reserve officers' training at Howard University, Col. Campbell C. Johnson, Special Aide to the Director of Selective Service. And, finally, he named Judge William H. Hastie, dean of the Howard University Law School, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of War.

A successful lawyer, Judge Hastie entered upon his new assignment with several handicaps. Because of his long association with black causes, some civil rights organizations assumed that Hastie would be their man in Washington and regarded his duties as an extension of their crusade against discrimination. Hastie's War Department superiors, on the other hand, assumed that his was a public relations job and expected him to handle all complaints and mobilization problems as had his World War I predecessor, Emmett J. Scott. Both assumptions proved false. Hastie was evidently determined to break the racial logjam in the War Department, yet unlike many civil rights advocates he seemed willing to pay the price of slow progress to obtain lasting improvement. According to those who knew him, Hastie was confident that he could demonstrate to War Department officials that the Army's racial policies were both inefficient and unpatriotic.[2-5]

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