The Civil Rights Movement | President Truman Signs Executive Order 9981

The blog will be placing a spotlight on a very important movement in American history over the next few weeks in honor of Black History Month. I want to focus on the positive changes and crucial moments during a time where injustice thrived!

The Civil Rights movement brought about needed changes for African-Americans after years of inequality, abuse, and racism. The lack of basic equal rights and violence had been the normal state of affairs; however, there are tons of people that stood up for their communities and the rights of all citizens living in “the land of the free”.  These moments in history are truly what Black History Month is all about. Countries such as the U. S, Canada, Ireland, and the Netherlands created this annual observance.

President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948. The move really was controversial at the time because it effectively abolished segregation within the U. S Military stating that no discrimination based on race, religion, or national origin was legal. This attempted to establish equal treatment when there was a glaring lack of fair treatment of American Citizens. See the full document below for further reading!

U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Edward Williams of St. Louis, exchanges a hearty handshake with his Commander-in-Chief, President Harry S. Truman, Oct. 13, 1950, at a casual meeting during the President’s morning walk. Williams had been in the Air Force nine years at the time of photo. 


The following is the full text document of Executive Order 9981. Provided by the Truman Library. To learn more please visit their website at

Establishing the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity In the Armed Forces.

WHEREAS it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country’s defense:

NOW THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, by the Constitution and the statutes of the United States, and as Commander in Chief of the armed services, it is hereby ordered as follows:

1. 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.

2. There shall be created in the National Military Establishment an advisory committee to be known as the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, which shall be composed of seven members to be designated by the President.

3. The Committee is authorized on behalf of the President to examine into the rules, procedures and practices of the Armed Services in order to determine in what respect such rules, procedures and practices may be altered or improved with a view to carrying out the policy of this order. The Committee shall confer and advise the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of the Air Force, and shall make such recommendations to the President and to said Secretaries as in the judgment of the Committee will effectuate the policy hereof.

4. All executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government are authorized and directed to cooperate with the Committee in its work, and to furnish the Committee such information or the services of such persons as the Committee may require in the performance of its duties.

5. When requested by the Committee to do so, persons in the armed services or in any of the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall testify before the Committee and shall make available for use of the Committee such documents and other information as the Committee may require.

6. The Committee shall continue to exist until such time as the President shall terminate its existence by Executive order.

Harry Truman

The White House
July 26, 1948


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