During World War II, some African Americans openly complained about the discrimination they faced while serving as soldiers protecting democracy. Different segments within the military attempted some small-scale experiments to try to integrate units and apply equal opportunity policies but usually met with at least some opposition. Influential leaders within the military and within the government were afraid of upsetting the status quo and were unsure how white servicemen would react to these changes. In other words, they didn’t want to rock the boat. President Harry Truman became more directly involved in the issue as the 1948 election approached. Military segregation had been an issue in the past two presidential elections and in 1947 the President’s Committee on Civil Rights criticized military segregation and recommended immediate action. Truman had ordered the desegregation of the nation’s military forces but still faced opposition from military leaders. Civil rights activist A. Philip Randolph threatened to lead civil disobedience resistance against implementation of a new draft law unless segregation was ended. Knowing the black voter support was important in the 1948 election, Truman issued this executive order in July 1948. Think about what impact this order might have had as you answer the following questions.
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Using the document Executive Order 9981 above, answer the following questions in the fields below and submit.
1: What was the purpose of Truman’s executive order?
2: What did you find out about minority employment during World War II by reading the background information about this document?
3: How did southern senators react to this proposed legislation? Why?
4: How did Truman’s recommendations hope to overcome past resistance to desegregating the military?