1940 October 9

FDR White House Says Military Will Not “Intermingle” Different Races

 

With Europe already at war, Congress passed the 1940 Selective Service Act, the first peacetime draft in American history. The law contained a section barring race discrimination in the operations of the draft. It may have been the first federal civil rights law in modern times. The Roosevelt administration and the War Department, however, maintained a segregated draft and segregated military units during World War II. On this day, before the U.S. entered the war, the White House announced that it would not “intermingle” different races in military units. On September 27, 1940, civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph had confronted President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House over his refusal to follow the law, but he was unsuccessful in getting him to change his policy.

During World War II, Winfred Lynn, an African-American landscape gardener from Long Island, NY, challenged the segregated draft, but his legal case was not successful (see February 3, 1944). The American armed forces remained racially segregated until President Harry Truman ordered them integrated by Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948.

Learn more at a timeline on African Americans in the U.S. Army:  http://www.army.mil/africanamericans/timeline.html

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