Black Excellence

33rd Harry S Truman 1945-1953 Democratic

  • Harry Truman as Vice President took over for FDR upon his death
  • Upon Blacks coming back from WW2 and being mistreated, Truman stated: “My stomach turned over when I learned that Negro soldiers, just back from overseas, were being dumped out of army trucks in Mississippi and beaten. Whatever my inclinations as a native of Missouri might have been, as President, I know this is bad. I shall fight to end evils like this.”
  • In a speech in Sedalia, Missouri, he said, “I believe in the brotherhood of man, not merely the brotherhood of white men, but the brotherhood of all men before law. I believe in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. In giving the Negroes the rights which are theirs, we are only acting in accordance with our own ideals of a true democracy.”
  • In late 1946, Harry Truman established “The President’s Committee on Civil Rights.” He instructed its members: “I want our Bill of Rights implemented in fact. We have been trying to do this for 150 years. We’re making progress, but we’re not making progress fast enough.”He asked Congress to support a civil rights package that included federal protection against lynching, better protection of the right to vote, and a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission. This was a huge political risk
  • Truman turned to his executive powers (Order 9981) and issued orders prohibiting discrimination in federal employment and to end segregation in the military (even though it did not fully get integrated until Eisenhower). These documents trace what some call the beginning of the Civil Rights
  • In 1951, established the Committee on Government Contract Compliance (CGCC). This committee ensured defense contractors did not discriminate because of race.

Truman admits that after growing up in the South, he did have personal prejudices, but a strong belief in being fair and a love for the constitution made him an ally to Blacks. He paved the way for civil rights reforms of the 1960s

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