Why should you cast your vote for Executive Order 9981 to be displayed first?

More than one million African American men—and thousands of African American women—served in the U.S. military in segregated units across the globe during World War II.

President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order (EO) 9981 on July 26, 1948.

The Executive Order stated that it was “essential that there be maintained in the armed service of the United States the highest standards of democracy.” These standards included “equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.”

Read more about what led President Truman—grandchild of slave owners—to sign this order on the Prologue blog.

Image: “Seeking to rescue a Marine who was drowning in the surf at Iwo Jima, this sextet of Negro soldiers narrowly missed death themselves when their amphibian truck was swamped by heavy seas. From left to right, back row, they are T/5 L. C. Carter, Jr., Private John Bonner, Jr., Staff Sergeant Charles R. Johnson. Standing, from left to right, are T/5 A. B. Randle, T/5 Homer H. Gaines, and Private Willie Tellie”, 03/11/1945 

Image: Pages one and two of EO 9981

Image: President Harry S. Truman (front row, fifth from right) and Secretary of the Army Frank Pace (front row, fourth from right) with members of the integrated 82nd Airborne in the Rose Garden behind the White House in February, 1951. (Truman Presidential Library, 63-1162-05)

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