The Evolution of African Americans in the Military
Throughout the history of the United States, citizens of every race and ethnicity have answered the call to duty in order to defend the democratic ideals this great nation was founded upon. More so than any American war, World War II is thought of as the greatest American war, which pitted the “shinning light” of democracy against the looming shadow of the Axis powers which covered all of Europe. While the American victory established the United States as a dominate world power and as a symbol of freedom and democracy, not every American citizen enjoyed freedom and democracy. African Americans were subject to institutional racism in all areas of society including the military. By taking a look at the evolution of War Department policies towards African Americans throughout the War as well as the dedication of black soldiers to their racist country it is apparent that the fight for equality in American society started well before the 1960’s and the civil rights movement.
The evolution of the African American in the military from being treated as second class solider to gaining equal opportunity with white soldiers was a long and arduous process. It came about due to ground breaking legislation in Congress as well as in the executive branch of the U.S. Government. The Selective Service Act of 1940 and Executive Order 9981 which led to the desegregation of the armed forces changed the fate of African Americans in the military for generations to come; but the transition and implementation of legislation was repeatedly contested by all branches of the military. Before looking into the problems that arose in the application of the legislation and its effects on African Americans, it is important to gain a sense of the War Department’s policies prior to the passage of both pieces of legislation. By gaining a true sense of the racism and oppression implemented... [continues]
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