On this day in 1948, 65 years ago, President Harry Truman, who had grown up in a traditional Southern Confederate home in Missouri, took a very courageous step, integrating the military by executive order, causing an uproar in the South and in the military itself, but standing by his decision that segregation and second class citizenship in the military must stop, particularly after the major contribution of African Americans during World War II.
This was the first Presidential action since Ulysses S. Grant promoted the Civil Rights Acts during his administration 75 years earlier.
It harmed Truman’s quest for a full term, spurring the creation of the States Rights party (Dixiecrats), and the candidacy of Strom Thurmond for President, and Thurmond won four Southern states and 39 electoral votes, the second best total ever until that time, but Truman pulled out a miraculous victory anyway!
Truman followed up the action on the military, by integrating Washington, DC, which had been ordered segregated by executive order of Woodrow Wilson in 1913!
What Truman did had an effect on the Supreme Court and future Presidents and Congresses, and the civil rights movement owes a lot to the courage and principle and decency of President Truman, who took a stand that could have defeated him, but that he knew was the right thing to do!