The California State Legislature passed resolutions, backed by the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC), to recognize July 26, 2017 as the 69th Anniversary of the Executive Order to desegregate the Armed Forces in America. The measures also celebrate the tireless work of A. Philip Randolph who led the first predominantly African American labor union to generate the necessary political pressure for President Harry S. Truman to issue Executive Order 9981.
“The executive order to desegregate our Armed Forces created a powerful and positive impact for the African American Civil Rights Movement,” said Assembly Member Chris R. Holden (AD-41), Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus. “Desegregation of the Armed Forces led to desegregation beyond the military, influenced decisions like Brown vs Board of Education, and helped create the Black middle-class.”
Although the order was issued in 1948, full integration of the troops was not achieved until 15 years later with the 1963 Department of Defense Directive 5120.36 entitled “Equal Opportunity in the Military Community.” With this directive came the opportunity for the upward economic mobility for African Americans. Those in the military had a significant earning advantage, propelling African-Americans into the middle-class.
In celebration of this historic executive order, the California Legislative Black Caucus presented House Resolution 45 in the California State Assembly and Senate Resolution 49 in the Senate. The Buffalo Soldiers Mounted Cavalry Unit 10H from Southern California presented the colors in full flair.
“July 26th will mark the 69th anniversary of an end to segregation in our armed forces, but it also signifies an important reminder of how far we have come and how much further we must fight for civil rights in America,” said Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), Co-Vice Chair for the CLBC. “Fearless individuals and moments of opportunity are what changes history. I cannot thank Mr. Randolph and other civil rights leaders enough for changing history and paving the way for those who are committed to standing up for what is right.”