September 14, 1940:
On this day Blacks were allowed to enter all branches of the US Military Service, when President Franklin D Roosevelt signs Selective Service Act. Although allowing African Americans to join any branch of the military may have been a small part of the overall controversy of creating a military draft system, it would eventually have a major impact upon African Americans role and service in the military. The discussion of a draft service for the country was quite controversial, but the possibility of the country becoming involved in the second world war made it a necessity in the opinion of many legislators.
Even though Blacks were allowed to join any branch, military life was much different to civilian life as far as equality and fair treatment was concerned. African Americans have served the U.S. military in every war the U.S has fought. Formalized discrimination against black people who have served in the U.S. military legally lasted from its creation during the Revolutionary War to the end of segregation by President Harry S. Truman‘s Executive Order 9981 in 1948. Although desegregation within the U.S. military was legally established with President Truman’s executive order, full integration of African-American servicemen was not established until 1950 for the U.S Navy and U.S. Air Force and not until 1953 for the U.S Army. You can read more about the discrimination and the discrepancy in punishments that Black folks face even today here and here.
Black folks have served America’s military with brilliance and distinction since our nation’s earliest days while overcoming overt, institutional, and more subtle forms of racism. And even though I personally don’t agree with or believe in serving a country that doesn’t serve me back, as it does others, I will not shame nor discount the sacrifices and heroism displayed by our people that did.