From the American Revolution to the Spanish-American War

What controversy continued after legal segregation in the military ended?

Executive Order 9981 never promised integration of the military but instead promised “equality of treatment and opportunity.” Thus, the order was met with some controversy and confusion, and “treatment of the races” often differed between blacks and whites. The Pentagon announced on October 30, 1954, that all-Negro military units had been abolished. Many problems came, however, from the communities in which army posts were located. Black service men faced the same hostility as black civilians, which prompted some of the men to say that they felt more comfortable overseas than at home. During the John F. Kennedy era, the Pentagon became more active in dealing with off-base discrimination. In 1962 the President’s Committee on Equal Opportunity in the Armed Forces was reactivated and became known as the Gesell Committee, taking its name from the chair, Gerhard A. Gesell.


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