Segregation of the Armed Forces

1. The strength of the Negro personnel of the Army of the United States will be maintained on the general basis of the proportion of the country.

2. Negro organizations will be established in each major branch of the service, combatant as well as noncombatant.

3. Negro reserve officers eligible for active duty will be assigned to Negro units officered by colored personnel.

4. When officer candidate schools are established, opportunity will be given to Negroes to qualify for reserve commissions.

5. Negroes are being given aviation training as pilots, mechanics and technical specialist. This training will be accelerated.

6. At arsenal and army posts Negro civilians are accorded equal opportunity for employment at work for which they are qualified by ability, education and experience.

7. The policy of the War Department is not to intermingle colored and white enlisted personnel in the same regimental organizations. This policy has been proved satisfactory over a long period of years, and to make changes now would produce situations destructive to morale and detrimental to the preparation for national defense...

Statement of Policy submitted by Robert P. Patterson, Assistant Secretary of War and approved by President Roosevelt, October 9, 1940.

With Hitler steamrolling his way through the Rhine Lands, Vienna, Sudenterland, Poland, Norway, Belgium and France, the U.S. had no other option but to join their British and French allies in the war against Germany on January 4, 1939.

The country's reluctant involvement meant the investment of millions of dollars to produce war machinery and to train pilots and related personnel. Initial planning did not include the participation of Blacks who were still significantly discriminated against, segregated and not a primary focus of the national consciousness.

Realizing that Blacks were to be relegated to menial and inferior roles in the armed services and in the war production industries, the Black press and Black leaders pressed the federal government for fair access. After much struggle and discussion, and with the continued opposition of labor unions and business, the compromised policy initiative, outlined above, was put in place.

The Black community's opposition to a continued policy of segregation, "a stab in the back of democracy," had no immediate impact on the government's policy.


Copyright 2001-, Terry Muse
Revised: December 29, 2001
Contact: Terry Muse