Defense Dept. Orders Racial Integration of all Military Reserves – But Not the National Guard
President Harry Truman had desegregated the U.S. armed services on July 26, 1948. His order did not cover the Reserves or the National Guard, however. The Defense Department on this day corrected that problem with regard to the Reserves and ordered them racially integrated. National Guard units, however, were still not covered. Although some states began integrating National Guard units in 1947, full integration did not come until the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The issue of whether the federal government or the states control state National Guard units arose again in 2013, when several states refused to comply with Pentagon policy that same-sex spouses of military personnel were entitled to military identification cards.
On June 23, 1955, Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, the most vigorous civil rights advocate in Congress at the time, offered an amendment that would bar funds to state National Guard units in those state where the Guard was not racially integrated.
Learn more: Martha Derthick, The National Guard in Politics (1965)
Learn more: Hugh Davis Graham, The Civil Rights Era: Origins and Development of National Policy, 1960 – 1972 (1990)