1944 February 3

Winfred Lynn’s Challenge to Segregated Draft Rejected


The Second Circuit Court of Appeals on this day rejected Winfred Lynn’s challenge to the racially segregated draft during World War II. Lynn was an African-American gardener from Long Island, New York, who refused to cooperate with the segregated draft.

Lynn’s challenge was based on the 1940 Selective Service Act law that established a military draft in preparation for World War II. It included a clause prohibiting racial discrimination (the law took effect on October 16, 1940). Nonetheless, the U.S. Armed Forces continued to maintain separate drafts for whites and African-Americans — and segregated military units. Civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph confronted President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House over the issue on September 27, 1940, but to no avail.

The U.S. District Court rejected Lynn’s case on December 4, 1942, and on this day by a vote of 2–1 on this day, the Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision.

After the war, the Lynn Defense Committee transformed itself into a committee to continue to fight the segregated military. Success finally came when President Harry Truman ordered the end of segregation with Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948.

Learn more about the Lynn case: http://www.sojournertruth.net/WAYBDF.pdf

Learn about the ACLU’s role in the case: https://www.aclu.org/racial-justice/aclu-history-soldiers-story

Read an obituary of Winfred Lynn: http://www.itkowitz.com/mam1965text.php?aid=251

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

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