desegregation of the armed forces

Black Americans in World War II

We call upon the president and congress to declare war on Japan and racial prejudice in our country. Certainly we should be strong enough to whip them both.The Pittsburgh Courier[38]

Despite a high enlistment rate in the U.S. Army, African Americans were not treated equally. At parades, church services, in transportation and canteens the races were kept separate. The Women’s Army Corps (WAC) changed its enlistment policies in January 1941, allowing for African American women to join the ranks of Army nurses to strengthen the war effort. Much like with male soldiers, Black women were given separate training, inferior living quarters, and rations. Black nurses were integrated into everyday life with their white colleagues and often felt the pain of discrimination and slander from the wounded soldiers they cared for and the leadership assigned to them.

The Navy did not follow suit in changing its policies to include women of color until January 25, 1945. The first African American woman sworn into the Navy was Phyllis Mae Dailey, a nurse and Columbia University student from New York. She was the first of only four African American women to serve in the navy during World War II.

Many soldiers of color served their country with distinction during World War II. There were 125,000 African Americans who were overseas in World War II. Famous segregated units, such as the Tuskegee Airmen and 761st Tank Battalion and the lesser-known but equally distinguished 452nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, proved their value in combat, leading to desegregation of all U.S. armed forces by order of President Harry S. Truman in July 1948 via Executive Order 9981.”

More info here

Reversing President Obama’s order and banning Transgender persons from serving in the military is a cruel violation of their human rights. Announcing this on the anniversary of Harry Truman’s order desegregating the armed forces is a particularly gruesome bit of showmanship. The symbolism sends a clear message, there’s no false embarrassment or attempt at framing the order as an issue of safety. The spectacle of it all, he wants you to see the contrast, this is the message his base wants to hear, “those lousy dems expand equal rights, but don’t worry I’ll put things back the way they should.”

The GOP has opposed equality for decades, but I’ve never seen it flaunted in such a clear manner, it seems the sort of thing you expect from a supervillain, not a president.

Transcript of the pre-episode interview for Fall, Episode 11, “The Howling Commandos,” produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg for HBO:

The casting people had to be commended.   Somehow they lucked out and the actor who played James Morita for the show strongly resembles the real, but of course, much older James Morita who’s sitting in front of the camera for his interview. 

This was the segment shown just before the episode “Fall” - where Sargeant James Buchanan Barnes met his end, the second to the last episode of the Howling Commandos series and perhaps, one of the best loved among the fans. 

The old man’s eyes are still clear and his voice is steady as he tells the real story, not glammed up or exagerrated by Hollywood or propaganda. 

Yeah, they were best buddies, grew up together in Brooklyn, to hear the Sarge talk about it.  Sarge looked out for the Cap ever since he was knee high to a grasshopper and about 90 pounds soaking wet.  Always in trouble ‘cause he can’t help but look out for the other guy, even though anyone else would walk away.  There was never such a thing as a fight you can’t win.  Not for the Captain. 

And Sarge?  Yeah, he said he got into that habit of making sure the Cap didn’t get his damn fool self killed and habits are hard to break, you know? 

They loved each other.  You don’t drop 30 miles into enemy territory all on  your own, storm an enemy base with nothing more than a shield and guts.  'Sargeant James Buchanan Barnes.  Bucky Barnes.’ That’s the first thing Cap asks while making sure the rest of us make it out of there alive.  The Sarge was the important thing.

Oh.  Did you mean if they were like in love with each other?  Like that? 

Does it matter?

All of us watched each other’s backs, knew we’d go to the end of the line for each other.  The first desegregated unit in the armed forces with a Frenchie and a Limey to boot.   And we were brothers, all of us and the Cap and the Sarge held us together like Mama Bear and Papa Bear and all the little bears.  Family. 

So.  That’s what I have to say.  Cap and the Sarge would go to the end of the line together, just like they’d do it for the rest of us.    That’s what the Cap did in the end.  No two ways about it.

They loved each other.  It’s as simple as that.  

The old man smiles.

“It is hereby declared 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.” — President Harry S. Truman, July 26, 1948.

Today we celebrate the desegregation of the armed forces.