WashPost: The tragic stories behind the executive order that eventually desegregated the U.S. armed forces

Washington Post’s DeNeen Brown shares the experiences of three black veterans, as they reflect on the 70th anniversary of President Harry Truman’s order to desegregate the armed forces.

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Submitted by Naseem Aamini, Washington Post

The Washington Post’s DeNeen Brown shares the experiences of three black veterans, as they reflect on the 70th anniversary of President Harry Truman’s order to desegregate the armed forces. It was an order Truman felt morally compelled to authorize to stop lynchings, particularly, of black servicemen. The veterans reflect on the military’s transition to full integration and how it would prove as difficult as integration in the rest of society. 

  • Black troops have fought with valor in every war since the American Revolution. Still, [Retired Lt. Gen. Julius Becton Jr.] Becton said that during World War II, they were treated unfairly by U.S. forces and even their prisoners of war. “During my training in 1944, when I was in an all-black unit at MacDill Army Airfield,” near Tampa, Becton recalled, “some of the service areas were run by Italian prisoners of war. . . . I could walk into the shoe repair, and even though I had been the first in line, I would be the last person served because the fellow behind the counter, although he was a POW, he was white.” – WATCH INTERVIEW HERE

  • [Retired Sgt. Sam] Graham felt as though Truman’s order had no immediate effect on his time in the service, where he constantly faced racism. “Mr. Truman, he took a stand, and he meant well,” Graham said. “But it was the commanders — it was up to them, and they fought it tooth and nail.” Graham remembers being called names by white soldiers. “There were always remarks made,” Graham said. “But what are you going to do? I was used to it.” For black soldiers, racism was rampant. “The things we had to overcome as black soldiers in a white Army,” he said. “You could either adjust to it or fight and wind up in the stockade.” – WATCH INTERVIEW HERE

  • Five years after Truman’s executive order, Charles Felder joined the Marines at 17. Felder grew up in Montgomery, Ala., where he saw racism that still makes him cringe. Felder said that his uncle, a World War II veteran, tried to talk him out of joining the military. “He hated the military,” Felder said. “He was a mechanic. He told me about an incident in Italy. They got up in the mountains in the Alps. The trucks constantly ran out of gas. They attached 55-gallon cans of gasoline to the backs of the black soldiers. That is the way they made it up the mountains.” WATCH INTERVIEW HERE

FULL STORY: https://wapo.st/2v1kjmd

 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. When you are defending the land you live on from a hostile force, something that US only did once, then race and gender or class do not enter into the conversation. When I graduated basic training in the Air Force, I said, I have smelled Puerto Rican farts, and White farts and farts of all nationalities, and they all smell the same.
    I have relied on my black brothers and sisters, my yellow brothers and sisters, and my red brothers and sisters, and my own white brothers and sisters , and they are all the same. Es Lo Mismo
    When a person needs help, and they lay there helpless, race is not a factor, knowledge and empathy is.
    So, you idiots that are racists, are not in a sound state of mind, and you are injured, and need to be embraced by the family. And the family will embrace you, and you cannot escape the family. This is it. You cannot be outside of it. This is not possible. You just learned wrong that’s all.

    • I get pretty pissed off when I see politicians acting against people who saved my life, because of their origin or background or skin color.. That crap is raw, and it is dead stupid. And I mean this literally, .. it is profoundly stupid to ask or encounter a person, who helps defend the land and people, and diminish that person because of race. This is kindergarten crap. It makes me question their religion and how it is taught, and fueled my own investigation, because I couldn’t believe the stupidity. I have done my due diligence, and racism is stupid.
      It is not natural, it is taught by ignorance, trying to survive. And the survival of ignorance, has no rules of decency or any sense at all. It is the rotten apple the spoils the whole bunch.

    • “So, you idiots that are racists, are not in a sound state of mind, and you are injured, and need to be embraced by the family.”
      “Injured” is the right description of this phenomena.

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