Korean War

The End of Segregation

Blacks have faced a litany of discrimination within the civilian and military arenas. While the military struggled with finding a balance between allowing black officers and the commanding of white soldiers, black officers (especially) were denied many of the rights that were a given for a white officer. White subordinates were not forced to salute black officers and for that manner, black officers could not give commands to white soldiers. The military as a whole, realized that as times progressed andThe newsreel after Executive Order 9981 was put out blacks proved themselves again and again that the segregation which ran rampant through the ranks would no longer work.

The end of segregation would come towards the end of the Korean War and President Truman's Executive Order 9981. The time seemed to change when in June of 1947 President Truman stated in a speech about civil rights and human freedom that "it is my deep conviction that we have reached a turning point in the long history of our efforts to guarantee a freedom and equality to all our citizens...And when I say all Americans--I mean all Americans." Eight months later, President Truman would send Congress a message on Civil Rights that proposed a ten-point program that included a multitude of initiatives, one being the desegregation of the armed forces. The Congress easily blocked the President's proposal; yet the issue would rise once again in July of that year. Though he continued to face resistance in his civil rights legislation, he decided to use an executive order to desegregate the armed forces regardless.

Executive Order 9981, declared a policy of equal opportunity regardless to race, religion, or national origin.  The order also created a seven member committee on the Equality of Treatment in the Armed Services, and deemed that all government agencies at all levels would comply with the committee. Thus, by the end of the Korean War in 1953 the military was almost completely desegregated; and the last all black unit was disbanded in 1954.

Thus the Army's integration of black and white units at the end of the Korean war was the first department of the government  and really the first element of society to have an integrated workforce. The Army, and the armed services would become a model for the rest of the country to follow ten years later in finally giving African-Americans the same right.


  • One of the first ground units was the all black 24th Regiment
  • Only 15% of the Army's force was black (in Korea)
  • The war marked the beginning of military integration
  • July 26th, 1951- General Matthew B. Ridgway received approval to integrate all troops
  • By the end of the war, over 200,000 blacks had enlisted
  • By the end of 1954 the last all black unit had been disbanded and black enlistees were accepted without a quota system