Executive Order 9981

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File:Chicago Defender July 31 1948.jpg

The Chicago Defender announces Executive Order 9981.

Executive Order 9981 is an executive order issued on July 26, 1948 by President Harry S. Truman. It abolished racial discrimination in the United States Armed Forces and eventually led to the end of segregation in the services.[1] In 1947, A. Philip Randolph, along with colleague Grant Reynolds, renewed efforts to end discrimination in the armed services, forming the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training, later renamed the League for Non-Violent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation.[2] Truman's Order expanded on Executive Order 8802 by establishing equality of treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services for people of all races, religions, or national origins.

The Order's operative statement is:

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President 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. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale.

The order also established a committee to investigate and make recommendations to the civilian leadership of the military to implement the policy.

The order eliminated Montford Point as a segregated Marine boot camp. It became a satellite facility of Camp Lejeune. The last of the all-black units in the United States military was abolished in September 1954. Kenneth Claiborne Royall, Secretary of the Army since 1947, was forced into retirement in April 1949 for continuing to refuse to desegregate the Army nearly a year after President Truman's Order.[3]

Fifteen years after Truman's order, on July 26, 1963, Robert S. McNamara issued Directive 5120.36 obligating military commanders to employ their financial resources against facilities used by soldiers or their families that discriminated based upon sex or race.


  1. "Executive Order 9981". Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  2. Susan M. Glisson, The Human Tradition in the Civil Rights Movement (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), 91
  3. Robert B. Edgerton, Hidden Heroism: Black Soldiers in America's Wars, (Barnes & Noble 2009), 165

Further reading

  • Alan L. Gropman, The Air Force Integrates, 1949-1964 (Office of Air Force History, 1986)
  • Morris J. MacGregor, Jr., Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940-1965 (US Government Printing Office, 1981)
  • Jon E. Taylor, Freedom to Serve: Truman, Civil Rights, and Executive Order 9981 (Routledge, 2013)
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