Newswire:  President Truman integrated the armed forces 70 years ago

By Frederick H. Lowe

President Harry Truman

President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order 70 years ago June 26, 1948, desegregating the United States armed forces, which provided more opportunities for Black women and Black men, and my father, Mitchell Lowe, was one of them. Executive Order No.9981 stated that “it is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.” My father served in the Army 21 years, retiring at the rank of Chief Warrant Officer. Black men have fought for this country since its founding. Crispus Attucks, a black man, was killed during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770, making him the first casualty of the American Revolution. Throughout the nation’s racist history, most blacks were assigned to segregated military units, where they were paid less than white soldiers. Black soldiers duties were mostly limited to cooking and cleaning. Some staff officers resisted Truman’s order, and the military did not become fully integrated until the Korean War (1950 to 1953) when the high number of casualties forced integration, according to the Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri. Truman’s order also established the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services. Truman had been mulling integration of the armed services since 1947 when he appointed the President’s Committee on Civil Rights. In 1948, a White House memo indicated the president was ready to do it. The National Democratic Convention that year provided the opportunity when delegates approved a plank calling for desegregation of the armed forces. During a recent presentation and discussion at the Truman Library & Museum broadcast on CSPAN’s “Book TV,” Rawn James Jr., author of “Double V: How Wars, Protest and Harry Truman, Desegregated America’s Military,” said Truman also decided to integrate the armed forces after learning about Isaac Woodard, Jr., a 26-year-old U.S. Army World War 11 veteran who had been brutally beaten by white cops. Woodard, a sergeant, who had been honorably discharged, was riding a bus from Augusta, Georgia to Winnsboro, South Carolina, on February 26, 1946, to meet his wife. When the bus stopped, Woodard asked the bus driver if he had enough time to use the bathroom. The driver of the Greyhound Bus became angry and said no. He and Woodard, who was wearing his Army uniform, got into an argument. When the bus reached Batesburg, South Carolina, Sheriff Linwood Shull and other cops dragged Woodard off the bus and repeatedly jabbed him in both eyes with their police batons, blinding him. The beating was reported to Truman by NAACP leaders in a meeting at the White House on September 19, 1946. Truman was shocked and both opened a Justice Department investigation into the case and promised to create what would become the President’s Committee on Civil Rights, the first national civil rights commission. Another factor that may have influenced Truman’s decision to integrate the armed forces occurred during World War II. Nazis dropped fliers over camps in Europe where black troops were stationed, urging them to join the German army because of the racism and violence they faced in America. “There have never been lynchings of colored men in Germany. They have always been treated decently,” said the Nazi leaflet, dropped on African-American soldiers fighting across Europe.” We now know that more than 4,400 black men, women and children were lynched in 12 Southern States between 1877 and 1950. Another German leaflet said, “Uncle Sam’s colored soldiers are just cannon fodder!” Black men fought for Germany during World War II, but they were native born Germans.

Realizing the Dream celebration activities set

Danny-Glover_Mary-Mary-800x450The annual Realizing the Dream celebration at the University of Alabama will feature award-winner gospel duo Mary Mary and actor and community activist Danny Glover.
The celebration will be from Jan. 12-15 and include a concert, banquet, speakers and a unity day. This year’s theme is Realizing the Dream Through Service to Others. The event, which celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., is hosted by UA, Stillman College, Shelton State Community College and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Glover will be the Legacy Awards Banquet speaker. The banquet will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 12 in the Bryant Conference Center’s Sellers Auditorium. Tickets are $25 for individuals or $200 for a table of 10. Dress is semiformal.

Among Glover’s film credits are “The Color Purple,” the “Lethal Weapon” and “Dreamgirls.” Glover’s wide-reaching community activism and philanthropic efforts focus on economic justice, access to healthcare and education programs.During the banquet, the Rev. Frank Dukes will receive the Mountaintop Award, a lifetime achievement award, for his work during the civil rights movement and as an educator in Alabama. UA associate professor Ellen Griffith Spears, author of “Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town,” will receive the Call to Conscience Award recognizing leadership and courage that helps to establish social justice, equality and peace. UA junior Marissa Navarro, who founded the Hispanic-Latino Association as a freshman, will receive the Horizon Award recognizing a young adult demonstrating outstanding vision and hope that promotes social justice, equality and peace.
Mary Mary, featuring the Grammy Award-winning sisters Erica and Tina Campbell, will perform during the 2018 Realizing the Dream Concert at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14 at UA’s Moody Music Concert Hall. Tickets are $15.
The events will continue Jan. 15, with Unity Day. The events, sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference begin at 7 a.m. with the Unity Breakfast at Beulah Baptist Church featuring speaker Joseph Scrivner, pastor at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church. The Unity Day march begins at noon at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School and will travel to Beulah Baptist Church. The Rev. Tyshawn Gardner, SCLC president and pastor of Plum Grove Baptist Church, will be the speaker. The annual rally begins at 6 p.m. at First African Baptist Church and will feature speaker Bishop L. Spenser Smith, pastor of Impact Nation.
Tickets for both events will go on sale through the Moody Music Building Music Services Office Jan. 3. Office hours are 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.

 Dr. M.L. King, Jr. Birthday
Commemoration schedule for
Greene County


47th Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Birthday Celebration
January 12-15, 2018

January 12,10:00 a.m – Student
Educational Seminar
at New Peace Baptist Church
Keynote Speaker,
Mrs. Katie Jones Powell
Former School Superintendent, Sumter County

January 14, 4:00 p.m. – Freedom Gospel Concert
New Generation Church

January 15, 8:30 a.m –
Unity Freedom Breakfast
Eutaw Activity Center
Keynote Speaker,
Rev. Joe Webb Pastor
New Generation Church

January 15,10:15 – Freedom March to
William M. Branch Courthouse

January 15,10:30 a.m. – Godly Women of West Alabama Religious Rally 
William M. Branch Courthouse
Keynote Speaker, Dr. Cynthia Warrick,
President, Stillman College, Tuscaloosa, AL.


Sponsored by
Alabama Civil Right Freedom Museum Inc.
Greene County ANSC
Greene County Supportive
Elected Officials
Greene County Brotherhood, Inc.


For more information please contact
Spiver W. Gordon 205-372-3446