The nation's military leaders and the leaders of the civil rights movement were in rare accord at the end of World War II. They agreed that despite considerable wartime improvement the racial policies of the services had proved inadequate for the development of the full military potential of the country's largest minority as well as the efficient operation and management of the nation's armed forces. Dissatisfaction with the current policy of the armed forces was a spearpoint of the increasingly militant and powerful civil rights movement, and this dissatisfaction was echoed to a great extent by the services themselves. Intimate association with minority problems had convinced the Army's Advisory Committee on Negro Troop Policies and the Navy's Special Programs Unit that new policies had to be devised and new directions sought. Confronted with the incessant demands of the civil rights advocates and presented by their own staffs with evidence of trouble, civilian leaders of the services agreed to review the status of the Negro. As the postwar era opened, both the Army and the Navy were beginning the interminable investigations that augured a change in policy.
Unfortunately, the services and the civil rights leaders had somewhat different ends in mind. Concerned chiefly with military efficiency but also accustomed to racial segregation or exclusion, most military leaders insisted on a rigid appraisal of the performance of segregated units in the war and ignored the effects of segregation on that performance. Civil rights advocates, on the other hand, seeing an opportunity to use the military as a vehicle for the extension of social justice, stressed the baneful effects of segregation on the black serviceman's morale. They were inclined to ignore the performance of the large segregated units and took issue with the premise that desegregation of the armed forces in advance of the rest of American society would threaten the efficient execution of the services' military mission. Neither group seemed able to appreciate the other's real concerns, and their contradictory conclusions promised a renewal of the discord in their wartime relationship.
But there was another facet to the American reform tradition, one that stressed mass action and civil disobedience, and the period between the March on Washington Movement in 1940 and the threat of a black boycott of the draft in 1948 witnessed the beginnings of a shift in the civil rights movement to this kind of reform tactic. The articulate leaders of the prewar struggle were still active, and in fact would make their greatest contribution in the fight that led to the Supreme Court's pronouncement on school segregation in 1954. But their quiet methods were already being challenged by A. Philip Randolph and others who launched a sustained demand for equal treatment and opportunity in the armed forces during the early postwar period. Randolph and leaders of his persuasion relied not so much on legal eloquence in their representations to the federal government as on an understanding of bloc voting in key districts and the implicit threat of civil disobedience. The civil rights campaign, at least in the effort to end segregation in the armed forces, had the appearance of a mass movement a full decade before a weary Rosa Parks boarded a Montgomery bus and set off the all-embracing crusade of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The growing political power of the Negro and the threat of mass action in the 1940's were important reasons for the breakthrough on the color front that began in the armed forces in the postwar period. For despite the measure of good will and political acumen that characterized his social programs, Harry S. Truman might never have made the effort to achieve racial equality in the services without the constant pressure of civil rights activists.
The reasons for the transformation that was beginning in the civil rights struggle were varied and complex.1 Fundamental was the growing urbanization of the Negro. By 1940 almost half the black population lived in cities. As the labor shortage became more acute during the next five years, movement toward the cities continued, not only in the south but in the north and west. Attracted by economic opportunities in Los Angeles war industries, for example, over 1,000 Negroes moved to that city each month during the war. Detroit, Seattle, and San Francisco, among others, reported similar migrations. The balance finally shifted during the war, and the 1950 census showed that 56 percent of the black population resided in metropolitan areas, 32 percent in cities of the north and west.2
This mass migration, especially to cities outside the south, was of profound importance to the future of American race relations. It meant first that the black masses were separating themselves from the archaic social patterns that had ruled their lives for generations. Despite virulent discrimination and prejudice in northern and western cities, Negroes could vote freely and enjoy some protection of the law and law-enforcement machinery. They were free of the burden of Jim Crow. Along with white citizens they were given better schooling, a major factor in improving status. The mass migration also meant that this part of America's peasantry was rapidly joining America's proletariat. The wartime shortage of workers, coupled with the efforts of the Fair Employment Practices Committee and other government agencies, opened up thousands of jobs previously denied black Americans. The number of skilled craftsmen, foremen and semiskilled workers among black Americans rose from 500,000 to over 1,000,000 during the war, while the number of Negroes working for the federal government increased from 60,000 to 200,000.3
Though much of the increase in black employment was the result of temporarily expanded wartime industries, black workers gained valuable training and experience that enabled them to compete more effectively for postwar jobs. Employment in unionized industries strengthened their position in the postwar labor movement. The severity of inevitable postwar cuts in black employment was mitigated by continued prosperity and the sustained growth of American industry. Postwar industrial development created thousands of new upper-level jobs, allowing many black workers to continue their economic advance without replacing white workers and without the attendant development of racial tensions.
The armed forces played their part in this change. Along with better food pay, and living conditions provided by the services, many Negroes were given new work experiences. Along with many of their white fellows, they acquired new skills and a new sophistication that prepared them for the different life of the postwar industrial world. Most important, military service in World War II divorced many Negroes from a society whose traditions had carefully defined their place, and exposed them for the first time to a community where racial equality, although imperfectly realized, was an ideal. Out of this experience many Negroes came to understand that their economic and political position could be changed. Ironically, the services themselves became an early target of this rising self-awareness. The integration of the armed forces, immediate and total, was a popular goal of the newly franchised voting group, which was turning away from leaders of both races who preached a philosophy of gradual change.
The black press was spokesman for the widespread demand for equality in the armed forces; just as the growth of the black press was dramatically stimulated by urbanization of the Negro, so was the civil rights movement stimulated by the press. The Pittsburgh Courier was but one of many black papers and journals that developed a national circulation and featured countless articles on the subject of discrimination in the services. One black sociologist observed that it was "no exaggeration to say that the Negro press was the major influence in mobilizing Negroes in the struggle for their rights during World War II."4 Sometimes inaccurate, often inflammatory, and always to the consternation of the military, the black press rallied the opposition to segregation during and after the war.
Much of the black unrest and dissatisfaction dramatized by the press continued to be mobilized through the efforts of such organizations as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Urban League, and the Congress of Racial Equality. The NAACP, for example, revitalized by a new and broadened appeal to the black masses, had some 1,200 branches in forty-three states by 1946 and boasted a membership of more than half a million. While the association continued to fight for minority rights in the courts, to stimulate black political participation, and to improve the conditions of Negroes generally, its most popular activity during the 1940's was its effort to eliminate discrimination in the armed forces. The files of the services and the White House are replete with NAACP complaints, requests, demands, and charges that involved the military departments in innumerable investigations and justifications. If the complaints effected little immediate change in policy, they at least dramatized the plight of black servicemen and mobilized demands for reform.5
Not all racial unrest was so constructively channeled during the war. Riots and mutinies in the armed services were echoed around the country. In Detroit competition between blacks and whites, many recently arrived from the south seeking jobs, culminated in June 1943 in the most serious riot of the decade. The President was forced to declare a state of emergency and dispatch 6,000 troops to patrol the city. The Detroit riot was only the most noticeable of a number of racial incidents that inevitably provoked an ugly reaction, and the postwar period witnessed an increase in antiblack sentiment and violence in the United States.6 Testifying to the black community's economic and political progress during the war as well as a corresponding increase in white awareness of and protest against the mistreatment of black citizens, this antiblack sentiment was only the pale ghost of a similar phenomenon after World War I.
PRESIDENT TRUMAN ADDRESSING THE NAACP CONVENTION, Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D. C., June 1947. Seated at the President's left are Walter White, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Senator Wayne Morse; visible in the rear row are Admiral of the Fleet Chester W. Nimitz, Attorney General Tom C. Clark, and Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson. [Photograph not included.]
Nevertheless, the sentiment was widespread. Traveling cross-country in a train during Christmastime, 1945, the celebrated American essayist Bernard DeVoto was astonished to hear expressions of antiblack sentiment. In Wisconsin, "a state where I think I had never before heard the word 'nigger,' that [dining] car was full of talk about niggers and what had to be done about them."7 A white veteran bore out the observation. "Anti-Negro talk . . . is cropping up in many places . . . the assumption [being] that there is more prejudice, never less.... Throughout the war the whites were segregated from the Negroes (why not say it this way for a change?) so that there were almost no occasions for white soldiers to get any kind of an impression of Negroes, favorable or otherwise." There had been some race prejudice among servicemen, but, the veteran asked, "What has caused this anti-Negro talk among those who stayed at home?" 8 About the same time, a U.S. senator was complaining to the Secretary of War that white and black civilians at Kelly Field, Texas, shared the same cafeterias and other facilities. He hoped the secretary would look into the matter to prevent disturbances that might grow out of a policy of this sort.9
Nor did the armed forces escape the rise in racial tension. For example, the War Department received many letters from the public and members of Congress when black officers, nearly the base's entire contingent of four hundred, demonstrated against the segregation of the officers' club at Freeman Field, Indiana, in April 1945. The question at issue was whether a post commander had the authority to exclude individuals on grounds of race from recreational facilities on an Army post. The Army Air Forces supported the post commander and suggested a return to a policy of separate and equal facilities for whites and blacks, primarily because a club for officers was a social center for the entire family. Since it was hardly an accepted custom in the country for the races to intermingle, officials argued, the Army had to follow rather than depart from custom, and, further, the wishes of white officers as well as those of Negroes deserved consideration. 10
The controversy reached the desk of John McCloy, the Assistant Secretary of War, who considered the position taken by the Army Air Forces a backward step, a reversal of the War Department position in an earlier and similar case at Selfridge Field, Michigan. McCloy's contention prevailed—that the commander's administrative discretion in these matters fell short of authority to exclude individuals from the right to enjoy recreational facilities provided by the federal government or maintained with its funds. Secretary of War Stimson agreed to amend the basic policy to reflect this clarification.ll
In December 1945 the press reported and the War and Navy Departments investigated an incident at Le Havre, France, where soldiers were embarking for the United States for demobilization. Officers of a Navy escort carrier objected to the inclusion of 123 black enlisted men on the grounds that the ship was unable to provide separate accommodations for Negroes. Army port authorities then substituted another group that included only one black officer and five black enlisted men who were placed aboard over the protests of the ship's officers.12 The Secretary of the Navy had already declared that the Navy did not differentiate between men on account of race, and on 12 December 1945 he reiterated his statement, adding that it applied to members of all the armed forces.l3 Demonstrating the frequent gap between policy and practice, Forrestal's order was ignored six months later by port officials when a group of black officers and men was withdrawn from a shipping list at Bremerhaven, Germany on the grounds that "segregation is a War Department policy." 14
Overt antiblack behavior and social turbulence in the civilian community also reached into the services. In February 1946 Issac Woodard, Jr., who had served in the Army for fifteen months in the Pacific, was ejected from a commercial bus and beaten by civilian police. Sergeant Woodard had recently been discharged from the Army at Camp Gordon, Georgia, and was still in uniform at the time of the brutal attack that blinded him. His case was quickly taken up by the NAACP and became the centerpiece of a national protest.15 Not only did the civil rights spokesmen protest the sadistic blinding, they also charged that the Army was incapable of protecting its own members in the community.
While service responsibility for countering off-base discrimination against servicemen was still highly debatable in 1946, the right of men on a military base to protection was uncontestable. Yet even service practices on military bases were under attack as racial conflicts and threats of violence multiplied. "Dear Mother," one soldier stationed at Sheppard Field, Texas, felt compelled to write in early 1946, "I don't know how long I'll stay whole because when those Whites come over to start [trouble] again I'll be right with the rest of the fellows. Nothing to worry about. Love, . . ."16 If the soldier's letter revealed continuing racial conflict in the service, it also testified to a growing racial unity among black servicemen that paralleled the trend in the black community. When Negroes could resolve with a new self-consciousness to "be right with the rest of the fellows," their cause was immeasurably strengthened and their goals brought appreciably nearer.
Civil rights spokesmen had several points to make regarding the use of Negroes in the postwar armed forces. Referring to the fact that World War II began with Negroes fighting for the right to fight, they demanded that the services guarantee a fair representation of Negroes in the postwar forces. Furthermore, to avoid the frustration suffered by Negroes trained for combat and then converted into service troops, they demanded that Negroes be trained and employed in all military specialties. They particularly stressed the correlation between poor leaders and poor units. The services' command practices, they charged, had frequently led to the appointment of the wrong men, either black or white, to command black units. Their principal solution was to provide for the promotion and proper employment of a proportionate share of competent black officers and noncommissioned officers. Above all, they pointed to the humiliations black soldiers suffered in the community outside the limits of the base. 17 One particularly telling example of such discrimination that circulated in the black press in 1945 described German prisoners of war being fed in a railroad restaurant while their black Army guards were forced to eat outside. But such discrimination toward black servicemen was hardly unique, and the civil rights advocates were quick to point to the connection between such practices and low morale and performance. For them there was but one answer to such discrimination: all men must be treated as individuals and guaranteed equal treatment and opportunity in the services. In a word, the armed forces must integrate. They pointed with pride to the success of those black soldiers who served in integrated units in the last months of the European war, and they repeatedly urged the complete abolition of segregation in the peacetime Army and Navy. 18
ASSISTANT SECRETARY MCCLOY [Photograph not included.]
When an executive of the National Urban League summed up these demands for President Truman at the end of the war, he clearly indicated that the changes in military policy that had brought about the gradual improvement in the lot of black servicemen during the war were now beside the point. i9 The military might try to ignore this fact for a little while longer; a politically sensitive President was not about to make such an error.
In the midst of this intensifying sentiment for integration, in fact a full year before the war ended, the Army began to search for a new racial policy. The invasion of Normandy and the extraordinary advance to Paris during the summer of 1944 had led many to believe that the war in Europe would soon be over, perhaps by fall. As the Allied leaders at the Quebec Conference in September discussed arrangements to be imposed on a defeated Germany, American officials in Washington began to consider plans for the postwar period. Among them was Assistant Secretary of War McCloy. Dissatisfied with the manner in which the Army was using black troops, McCloy believed it was time to start
planning how best to employ them in the postwar Army, which, according to current assumptions, would be small and professional and would depend upon a citizen reserve to augment it in an emergency.
TRUMAN GIBSON [Photograph not included.]
McCloy concluded that despite a host of prewar studies by the General Staff, the Army War College, and other military agencies, the Army was unprepared during World War II to deal with and make the most efficient use of the large numbers of Negroes furnished by Selective Service. Policies for training and employing black troops had developed in response to specific problems rather than in accordance with a well thought out and comprehensive plan. Because of "inadequate preparation prior to the period of sudden expansion," McCloy believed a great many sources of racial irritation persisted. To develop a "definite, workable policy, for the inclusion and utilization in the Army of minority racial groups" before postwar planning crystallized and solidified, McCloy suggested to his assistants that the War Department General Staff review existing practices and experiences at home and abroad and recommend changes.20
The Chief of Staff, General Marshall, continued to insist that the Army's racial problem was but part of a larger national problem and, as McCloy later recalled, had no strong views on a solution.21 Whatever his personal feelings Marshall, like most Army staff officers, always emphasized efficiency and performance to the exclusion of social concerns. While he believed that the limited scope of the experiment with integrated platoons toward the end of the war in Europe made the results inconclusive, Marshall still wanted the platoons' performance considered in the general staff study.22
The idea of a staff study on the postwar use of black troops also found favor with Secretary Stimson, and a series of conferences and informal discussions on the best way to go about it took place in the highest echelons of the Army during the early months of 1945. The upshot was a decision to ask the senior commanders at home and overseas for their comments. How did they train and use their black troops? What irritations, frictions, and disorders arising from racial conflicts had hampered their operations? What were their recommendations on how best to use black troops after the war? Two weeks after the war ended in Europe, a letter with an attached questionnaire was sent to senior commanders.23 The questionnaire asked for such information as: "To what extent have you maintained segregation beyond the actual unit level, and what is your recommendation on this subject? If you have employed Negro platoons in the same company with white platoons, what is your opinion of the practicability of this arrangement?"
Not everyone agreed that the questionnaire was the best way to review
the performance of Negroes in World War II. Truman Gibson, for one, doubted
the value of soliciting information from senior commanders, feeling that
these officers would offer much subjective material of little real assistance.
Referring to the letter to the major senior commanders, he said:
Mere injunctions of objectivity do not work in the racial field where more often than nor decisions are made on a basis of emotion, prejudice or pre-existing opinion....Much of the difficulty in the Army has arisen from improper racial attitudes on both sides. Indeed, the Army's basic policy of segregation is said to be based principally on the individual attitudes and desires of the soldiers.
But who knew what soldiers' attitudes were? Why not, he suggested, make some scientific inquiries? Why not try to determine, for example, how far public opinion and pressure would permit the Army to go in developing policies for black troops?24
Gibson had become, perforce, an expert on public opinion. During the last several months he had suffered the slings and arrows of an outraged black press for his widely publicized analysis of the performance of black troops. Visiting black units and commanders in the Mediterranean and European theaters to observe, in McCloy's words, "the performance of Negro troops, their attitudes and the attitudes of their officers toward them,"25 Gibson had arrived in Italy at the end of February 1945 to find theater officials concerned over the poor combat record of the 92d Infantry Division, the only black division in the theater and one of three activated by the War Department. After a series of discussions with senior commanders and a visit to the division, Gibson participated in a press conference in Rome during which he spoke candidly of the problems of the division's infantry units.26 Subsequent news reports of the conference stressed Gibson's confirmation of the division's disappointing performance, but neglected the reasons he advanced to explain its failure. The reports earned a swift and angry retort from the black community. Many organizations and journals condemned Gibson's evaluation of the 92d outright. Some seemed less concerned with the possible accuracy of his statement than with the effects it might have on the development of future military policy. The NAACP's Crisis, for example, charged that Gibson had "carried the ball for the War Department," and that "probably no more unfortunate words, affecting the representatives of the entire race, were ever spoken by a Negro in a key position in such a critical hour. We seem destined to bear the burden of Mr. Gibson's Rome adventure for many years to come." 27
Other black journals took a more detached view of the situation, asserting that Gibson's remarks revealed nothing new and that the problem was segregation, of which the 92d was a notable victim. Gibson took this tack in his own defense, pointing to the irony of a situation in which "some people can, on the one hand, argue that segregation is wrong, and on the other . . . blindly defend the product of that segregation." 28
Gibson had defenders in the Army whose comments might well apply to all the large black units in the war. At one extreme stood the Allied commander in Italy, General Mark W. Clark, who attributed the 92d's shortcomings to "our handling of minority problems at home." Most of all, General Clark thought, black soldiers needed the incentive of feeling that they were fighting for home and country as equals. But his conclusion—"only the proper environment in his own country can provide such an incentive"—neatly played down Army responsibility for the division's problems.29
Another officer, who as commander of a divisional artillery unit was intimately acquainted with the division's shortcomings, delineated an entirely different set of causes. The division was doomed to mediocrity and worse, Lt. Col. Marcus H. Ray concluded, from the moment of its activation. Undercurrents of racial antipathy as well as distrust and prejudice, he believed, infected the organization from the outset and created an unhealthy beginning. The practice of withholding promotion from deserving black officers along with preferential assignments for white officers prolonged the malady. The basic misconception was that southern white officers understood Negroes; under such officers Negroes who conformed with the southern stereotype were promoted regardless of their abilities, while those who exhibited self-reliance and self respect—necessary attributes of leadership—were humiliated and discouraged for their uppitiness. "I was astounded," he said, "by the willingness of the white officers who preceded us to place their own lives in a hazardous position in order to have tractable Negroes around them."30 In short, the men of the 92d who fought and died bravely should be honored, but their unit, which on balance did not perform well, should be considered a failure of white leadership.
COMPANY I, 370TH INFANTRY, 92D DIVISION, advances through Cascina, Italy [Photograph not included.]
Lt. Gen. Lucian K. Truscott, Jr., then Fifth Army commander in Italy, disagreed. Submitting the proceedings of a board of review that had investigated the effectiveness of black officers and enlisted men in the 92d Division, he was sympathetic to the frustrations encountered by the division commander, Maj. Gen. Edward M. Almond. "In justice to those splendid officers"—a reference to the white senior commanders and staff members of the division—"who have devoted themselves without stint in an endeavor to produce a combat division with Negro personnel and who have approached this problem without prejudice," Truscott endorsed the board's hard view that many infantrymen in the division "would not fight.''31 This conclusion was in direct conflict with the widely held and respected truism that competent leadership solved all problems from which it followed that the answer to the problem of Negroes in combat was command. Good commanders prevented friction, performed their mission effectively, and achieved success no matter what the obstacles—a view put forth in a typical report from World War II that "the efficiency of Negro units depends entirely on the leadership of officers and NCO's."32
In fact, General Truscott's analysis of the 92d Division's problems seemed at variance with his analysis of command problems in other units, as illustrated by his later attention to problems in the all-white 34th Infantry Division.33 The habit of viewing unit problems as command problems was also demonstrated by General Jacob L. Devers, who was deputy Allied commander in the Mediterranean when the 92d arrived in Italy. Reflecting later upon the 92d Division, General Devers agreed that its engineer and armor unit performed well, but the infantry did not "because their commanders weren't good enough."34
Years later General Almond, the division's commander, was to claim that the 92d Division had done "many things well and some things poorly." It fought In extremely rugged terrain against a determined enemy over an exceptionally broad front. The division's artillery as well as its technical and administrative units performed well. Negroes also excelled in intelligence work and in dealing with the Italian partisans. On the other hand, General Almond reported, infantry elements were unable to close with the enemy and destroy him. Rifle squads, platoons, and companies tended "to melt away" when confronted by determined opposition. Almond blamed this on "a lack of dedication to purpose, pride of accomplishment and devotion to duty and teammates by the majority of black riflemen assigned to Infantry Units."35
Similar judgments were expressed concerning the combat capability of the other major black unit, the 93d Infantry Division.36 When elements of the 93d, the 25th Regimental Combat Team in particular, participated in the Bougainville campaign in the Solomon Islands, their performance was the subject of constant scrutiny by order of the Chief of Staff.37 The combat record of the 25th included enough examples of command and individual failure to reinforce the War Department's decision in mid-1944 to use the individual units of the division in security, laboring, and training duties in quiet areas of the theater, leaving combat to more seasoned units.38 During the last year of the war the 93d performed missions that were essential but not typical for combat divisions.
Analyses of the division's performance ran along familiar lines. The XIV Corps commander, under whom the division served, rated the performance of the 25th Regimental Combat Team infantry as fair and artillery as good, but found the unit, at least those parts commanded by black officers, lacking in initiative, inadequately trained, and poorly disciplined. Other reports tended to agree. All of them, along with reports on the 24th Infantry, another black unit serving in the area, were assembled in Washington for Assistant Secretary McCloy. While he admitted important limitations in the performance of the units, McCloy nevertheless remained encouraged. Not so the Secretary of War. "I do not believe," he told McCloy, "they can be turned into really effective combat troops without all officers being white."39
Black officers of the 93d, however, entertained a different view. They generally cited command and staff inefficiencies as the major cause of the division's discipline and morale problems. One respondent, a company commander in the 25th Infantry, singled out the "continuous dissension and suspicion characterizing the relations between white and colored officers of the division." All tended to stress what they considered inadequate jungle training, and, like many white observers, they all agreed the combat period was too brief to demonstrate the division's developing ability.40
92D DIVISION ENGINEERS PREPARE A FORD FOR ARNO RIVER TRAFFIC [Photograph not included.]
Despite the performance of some individuals and units praised by all, the combat performance of the 92d and 93d Infantry Divisions was generally considered less than satisfactory by most observers. A much smaller group of commentators, mostly black journalists, never accepted the prevailing view. Pointing to the decorations and honors received by individuals in the two divisions, they charged that the adverse reports were untrue, reflections of the prejudices of white officers. Such an assertion presupposed that hundreds of officers and War Department officials were so consumed with prejudice that they falsified the record. And the argument from decorations, as one expert later pointed out, faltered once it was understood that the 92d and 93d Infantry Divisions combined a relatively high number of decorations with relatively few casualties.4l
Actually, there was little doubt that the performance of the black divisions in World War II was generally unacceptable. Beyond that common conclusion, opinions diverged widely. Commanders tended to blame undisciplined troops and lack of initiative and control by black officers and noncommissioned officers as the primary cause of the difficulty. Others, particularly black observers, cited the white officers and their lack of racial sensitivity. In fact, as Ulysses Lee points out with careful documentation, all these factors were involved, but the underlying problem usually overlooked by observers was segregation. Large, all black combat units submerged able soldiers in a sea of men with low aptitude and inadequate training. Segregation also created special psychological problems for junior black officers. Carefully assigned so that they never commanded white officers or men, they were often derided by white officers whose attitudes were quickly sensed by the men to the detriment of good discipline. Segregation was also a factor in the rapid transfer of men in and out of the divisions, thus negating the possible benefits of lengthy training. Furthermore, the divisions were natural repositories for many dissatisfied or inadequate white officers, who introduced a host of other problems.
Truman Gibson was quick to point out how segregation had intensified the problem of turning civilians into soldiers and groups into units. The "dissimilarity in the learning profiles" between black and white soldiers as reflected in their AGCT scores was, he explained to McCloy, primarily a result of inferior black schooling, yet its practical effect on the Army was to burden it with several large units of inferior combat ability (Table 2). In addition to the fact that large black units had a preponderance of slow learners, Gibson emphasized that nearly all black soldiers were trained near "exceedingly hostile" communities. This hostile atmosphere, he believed, had played a decisive role in their adjustment to Army life and adversely affected individual motivation. Gibson also charged the Army with promoting some black officers who lacked leadership qualifications and whose performance, consequently, was under par. He recommended a single measure of performance for officers and a single system for promotion, even if this system reduced promotions for black officers. Promotions on any basis other than merit, he concluded, deprived the Army of the best leadership and inflicted weak commanders on black units.
Gibson was not trying to magnify the efficiency of segregated units.
He made a special effort to compare the performance of the 92d Division
with that of the integrated black platoons in Germany because such a comparison
would demonstrate, he believed, that the Army's segregation policy was
in need of critical reexamination. He cited "many officers" who believed
that the problems connected with large segregated combat units justified
their abolition in
|11th Armored Division||3.0||23.8||33.8||33.1||6.3||100|
|35th Infantry Division||3.3||27.0||34.2||28.0||7.5||100|
|92d Infantry Division (Negro)||0.4||5.2||11.8||43.5||39.1||100|
|93d Infantry Division (Negro)||0.1||3.5||13.0||38.4||45.0||100|
|100th Infantry Division||3.6||27.1||34.1||29.1||6.1||100|
favor of the integration of black platoons into larger white units. Although such unit integration would not abolish segregation completely, Gibson concluded, it would permit the Army to use men and small units on the basis of ability alone.42
The flexibility Gibson detected among many Army officers was not apparent in the answers to the McCloy questionnaire that flowed into the War Department during the summer and fall of 1945. With few exceptions, the senior officers queried expressed uniform reactions. They reiterated a story of frustration and difficulty in training and employing black units, characterized black soldiers as unreliable and inefficient, and criticized the performance of black officers and noncommissioned officers. They were particularly concerned with racial disturbances, which, they believed, were not only the work of racial agitators but also the result of poor morale and a sense of discrimination among black troops. Yet they wanted to retain segregation, albeit in units of smaller size, and they wanted to depend, for the most part, on white officers to command these black units. Concerned with performance, pragmatic rather than reflective in their habits, the commanders showed little interest in or understanding of the factors responsible for the conditions of which they complained. Many believed that segregation actually enhanced black pride. 43
These responses were summarized by the commanding generals of the major force commands at the request of the War Department's Special Planning Division.44 For example, the study prepared by the Army Service Forces, which had employed a high proportion of black troops in its technical services during the war, passed on the recommendations made by these far-flung commands and touched incidentally on several of the points raised by Gibson.45 Like Gibson, the Army Service Forces recommended that Negroes of little or no education be denied induction or enlistment and that no deviation from normal standards for the sake of maintaining racial quotas in the officer corps be tolerated. The Army Service Forces also wanted Negroes employed in all major forces, participating proportionately in all phases of the Army's mission, including overseas and combat assignments, but not in every occupation. For the Army Service Forces had decided that Negroes performed best as truck drivers, ammunition handlers, stevedores, cooks, bakers, and the like and should be trained in these specialties rather than more highly skilled jobs such as armorer or machinist. Even in the occupations they were best suited to, Negroes should be given from a third more to twice as much training as whites, and black units should have 25 to 50 percent more officers than white units. At the same time, the Army Service Forces wanted to retain segregated units, although it recommended limiting black service units to company size. Stating in conclusion that it sought only "to insure the most efficient training and utilization of Negro manpower" and would ignore the question of racial equality or the "wisdom of segregation in the social sense," the Army Service Forces overlooked the possibility that the former could not be attained without consideration of the latter.
The Army Ground Forces, which trained black units for all major branches of the field forces, also wanted to retain black units, but its report concluded that these units could be of battalion size. The organization of black soldiers in division-size units, it claimed, only complicated the problem of training because of the difficulty in developing the qualified black technicians, noncommissioned officers, and field grade officers necessary for such large units and finding training locations as well as assignment areas with sufficient off-base recreational facilities for large groups of black soldiers. The Army Ground Forces considered the problem of finding and training field grade officers particularly acute since black units employing black officers, at least in the case of infantry, had proved ineffective. Yet white officers put in command of black troops felt they were being punished, and their presence added to the frustration of the blacks.
The Army Ground Forces was also particularly concerned with racial disturbances,
which, it believed, stemmed from conflicting white and black concepts of
the Negro's place in the social pattern. The Army Ground Forces saw no
military solution for a problem that transcended the contemporary national
emergency, and its conclusion—that the solution lay in society at large
and not primarily in the armed forces—had the effect, whether or not so
intended, of neatly exonerating the Army. In fact, the detailed conclusions
and recommendations of the Army Ground Forces were remarkably similar to
those of the Army Service Forces, but the Ground Forces study, more than
any other, was shot full with blatant racism. The study quoted a 1925 War
College study to the effect that the black officer was "still a Negro with
all the faults and weaknesses of character inherent in the Negro race."
It also discussed the "average Negro" and his "inherent characteristics"
at great length, dwelling on his supposed inferior mentality and weakness
of character, and raising other racial shibboleths. Burdened with these
prejudices, the Army Ground Forces study concluded
that the conception that negroes should serve in the military forces, or in particular parts of the military forces, or sustain battle losses in proportion to their population in the United States, may be desirable but is impracticable and should be abandoned in the interest of a logical solution to the problem of the utilization of negroes in the armed forces.46
The Army Air Forces, another large employer of black servicemen, reported a slightly different World War II experience. Conforming with departmental policies on utilizing black soldiers, it had selected Negroes for special training on the same basis as whites with the exception of aviation cadets. Negroes with a lower stanine (aptitude) had been accepted in order to secure enough candidates to meet the quota for pilots, navigators, and bombardiers in the black units. In its preliminary report to the War Department on the employment of Negroes, the Army Air Forces admitted that individuals of both races with similar aptitudes and test scores had the same success in technical schools, could be trained as pilots and technicians in the same period of time, and showed the same degree of mechanical proficiency. Black units, on the other hand, required considerably more time in training than white units, sometimes simply because they were understrength and their performance was less effective. At the same time the Air Forces admitted that even after discounting the usual factors, such as time in service and job assignment, whites advanced further than blacks. No explanation was offered. Nevertheless, the commanding general of the Air Forces reported very little racial disorder or conflict overseas. There had been a considerable amount in the United States, however; many Air Forces commanders ascribed this to the unwillingness of northern Negroes to accept southern laws or social customs, the insistence of black officers on integrated officers' clubs, and the feeling among black fliers that command had been made an exclusive prerogative of white officers rather than a matter depending on demonstrated qualification.
In contrast to the others, the Army Air Forces revealed a marked change in sentiment over the post-World War I studies of black troops. No more were there references to congenital inferiority or inherent weaknesses, but everywhere a willingness to admit that Negroes had been held back by the white majority.
The commanding general of the Army Air Forces recommended Negroes be
apportioned among the three major forces—the Army Ground Forces, the Army
Service Forces, and the Army Air Forces—but that their numbers in no case
exceed 10 percent of any command; that black servicemen be trained exactly
whites; and that Negroes be segregated in units not to exceed air group size. Unlike the others, the Army Air Forces wanted black units to have black commanders as far as possible and recommended that the degree of segregation in messing, recreation, and social activities conform to the custom of the surrounding community. It wanted Negroes assigned overseas in the same proportion as whites, and in the United States, to the extent practicable, only to those areas considered favorable to their welfare. Finally, the Air Forces wanted Negroes to be neither favored nor discriminated against in disciplinary matters.47
Among the responses of the subordinate commands were some exceptions to the generalizations found in those of the major forces. One commander, for example, while concluding that segregation was desirable, admitted that it was one of the basic causes of the Army's racial troubles and would have to be dealt with "one way or the other."48 Another recommended dispersing black troops, one or two in a squad, throughout all-white combat units.49 Still another pointed out that the performance of black officers and noncommissioned officers in terms of resourcefulness, aggressiveness, sense of responsibility, and ability to make decisions was comparable to the performance of white soldiers when conditions of service were nearly equal. But the Army failed to understand this truth, the commander of the 1st Service Command charged, and its separate and unequal treatment discriminated in a way that would affect the efficiency of any man. The performance of black troops, he concluded, depended on how severely the community near a post differentiated between the black and white soldier and how well the Negro's commander demonstrated the fairness essential to authority. The Army admitted that black units needed superior leadership, but, he added, it misunderstood what this leadership entailed. All too often commanders of black units acted under the belief that their men were different and needed special treatment, thus clearly suggesting racial inferiority. The Army, he concluded, should learn from its wartime experience the deleterious effect of segregation on motivation and ultimately on performance.50
Truman Gibson took much the same approach when he summed up for McCloyhis estimate of the situation facing the Army. After rehearsing the recent history of segregation in the armed forces, he suggested that it was not enough to compare the performance of black and white troops; the reports of black performance should be examined to determine whether the performance would be improved or impaired by changing the policy of segregation. Any major Army review, he urged, should avoid the failure of the old studies on race that based differences in performance on racial characteristics and should question instead the efficiency of segregation. For him, segregation was the heart of the matter, and he counseled that "future policy should be predicated on an assumption that civilian attitudes will not remain static. The basic policy of the Army should, therefore, not itself be static and restrictive, but should be so framed as to make further progress possible on a flexible basis. "51
Before passing Gibson's suggestions to the Assistant Secretary of War, McCloy's executive assistant, Lt. Col. Davidson Sommers, added some ideas of his own. Since it was "pretty well recognized," he wrote, that the Army had not found the answer to the efficient use of black manpower, a first-class officer or group of officers of high rank, supplemented perhaps with a racially mixed group of civilians, should be designated to prepare a new racial policy. But, he warned, their work would be ineffectual without specific directions from Army leaders. He wanted the Army to make "eventual nonsegregation" its goal. Complete integration, Sommers felt, was impossible to achieve at once. Classification test scores alone refuted the claim that "Negroes in general make as good soldiers as whites." But he thought there was no need "to resort to racial theories to explain the difference," for the lack of educational, occupational, and social opportunities was sufficient.52
Sommers had, in effect, adopted Gibson's gradualist approach to the problem, suggesting an inquiry to determine "the areas in which nonsegregation can be attempted first and the methods by which it can be introduced . . . instead of merely generalizing, as in the past, on the disappointing and not very relevant experiences with large segregated units." He foresaw difficulties: a certain amount of social friction and perhaps a considerable amount of what he called "professional Negro agitation" because Negroes competing with whites would probably not achieve comparable ranks or positions immediately. But Sommers saw no cause for alarm. "We shall be on firm ground," he concluded, "and will be able to defend our actions by relying on the unassailable position that we are using men in accordance with their ability."
Competing with these calls for gradual desegregation was the Army's growmg concern with securing some form of universal military training. Congress would discuss the issue during the summer and fall of 1945, and one of the questions almost certain to arise in the congressional hearings was the place contemplated for Negroes. Would the Army use Negroes in combat units? Would the Army train and use Negroes in units together with whites? Upon the answers to these questions hinged the votes of most, if not all, southern congressmen. Prudence dictated that the Army avoid any innovations that might jeopardize the chance for universal military training. In other words, went the prevalent view, what was good for the Army—and universal military training was in that category—had to come before all else.53
Even among officers troubled by the contradictory aspects of an issue clouded by morality, many felt impelled to give their prime allegiance to the Army as it was then constituted. The Army's impressive achievement during the war, they reasoned, argued for its continuation in conformance with current precepts, particularly in a world still full of hostilities. The stability of the Army came first; changes would have to be made slowly, without risking the menace of disruption. An attempt to mix the races in the Army seemed to most officers a dangerous move bordering on irresponsibility. Furthermore, the majority of Army officers, dedicated to the traditions of the service, saw the Army as a social as well as a military institution. It was a way of life that embraced families, wives and children. The old manners and practices were comfortable because they were well known and understood, had produced victory, and had represented a life that was somewhat isolated and insulated—particularly in the field—from the currents and pressures of national life. Why then should the old patterns be modified; why exchange comfort for possible chaos? Why should the Army admit large numbers of Negroes; what had Negroes contributed to winging World War II; what could they possibly contribute to the postwar Army?
Although opinion among Army officials on the future role of Negroes in the Army was diverse and frankly questioning in tone, opinion on the past performance of black units was not. Commanders tended to agree that with certain exceptions, particularly small service and combat support units, black units performed below the Army average during the war and considerably below the best white units. The commanders also generally agreed that black units should be made more efficient and usually recommended they be reduced in size and filled with better qualified men. Most civil rights spokesmen and their allies in the Army, on the other hand, viewed segregation as the underlying cause of poor performance. How, then, could the conflicting advice be channeled into construction of an acceptable postwar racial policy? The task was clearly beyond the powers of the War Department's Special Planning Division, and in September 1945 McCloy adopted the recommendation of Sommers and Gibson and urged the Secretary of War to turn over this crucial matter to a board of general officers. Out of this board's deliberations, influenced in great measure by opinions previously expressed, would emerge the long-awaited revision of the Army's policy for its black minority.
In contrast to the elaborate investigation conducted by the Army the Navy's search for a policy consisted mainly of an informal intradepartmental review and an inspection of its black units by a civilian representative of the Secretary of the Navy. In general this contrast may be explained by the difference in the services' postwar problems. The Army was planning for the enlistment of a large cross section of the population through some form of universal military training; the Navy was planning for a much smaller peacetime organization of technically trained volunteers. Moreover, the Army wanted to review the performance of its many black combat units, whereas the naval establishment, which had excluded most of its Negroes from combat, had little to gain from measuring their wartime performance.
The character and methods of the Secretary of the Navy had an important bearing on policy. Forrestal believed he had won the senior officers to his view of equal treatment and opportunity, and to be assured of success he wanted to convince lower commanders and the ranks as well. He wrote in July 1945: "We are making every effort to give more than lip service to the principles of democracy in the treatment of the Negro and we are trying to do it with the minimum of commotion.... We would rather await the practical demonstration of the success of our efforts . . . There is still a long road to travel but I am confident we have made a start. " 54
Forrestal's wish for a racially democratic Navy did not noticeably conflict with the traditionalists' plan for a small, technically elite force, so while the Army launched a worldwide quest in anticipation of an orthodox policy review, the Navy started an informal investigation designed primarily to win support for the racial program conceived by the Secretary of the Navy.
The Navy's search began in the last months of the war when Secretary Forrestal approved the formation of an informal Committee on Negro Personnel. Although Lester Granger, the secretary's adviser on racial matters, had originally proposed the establishment of such a committee to "help frame sound and effective racial policies,"55 the Chief of Naval Personnel, a preeminent representative of the Navy's professionals, saw an altogether different reason for the group. He endorsed the idea of a committee, he told a member of the secretary's staff, "not because there is anything wrong or backward about our policies, " but because "we need greater cooperation from the technical Bureaus in order that those policies may succeed."56 Forrestal did little to define the group's purpose when on 16 April 1945 he ordered Under Secretary Bard to organize a committee "to assure uniform policies" and see that all subdivisions of the Navy were familiar with each other's successful and unsuccessful racial practices. 57
By pressing for the uniform treatment of Negroes, Forrestal doubtless hoped to pull backward branches into line with more liberal ones so that the progressive reforms of the past year would be accepted throughout the Navy. But if Forrestal's ultimate goal was plain, his failure to give clear-cut directions to his informal committee was characteristic of his handling of racial policy. He carefully followed the recommendations of the Chief of Naval Personnel, who wanted the committee to be a military group, despite having earlier expressed his intention of inviting Granger to chair the committee. As announced on 25 April, the committee was headed by a senior official of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Capt. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, with another of the bureau's officers serving as committee recorder.58 Restricting the scope of the inquiry, Forrestal ordered that "whenever practical" the committee should assign each of its members to investigate the racial practices in his own organization.
Nevertheless when the committee got down to work it quickly went beyond the limited concept of its mission as advanced by the Chief of Naval Personnel. Not only did it study statistics gathered from all sections of the department and review the experiences of various commanders of black units, it also studied Granger's immediate and long-range recommendations for the department, an extension of his earlier wartime work for Forrestal. Specifically, Granger had called for the formulation of a definite integration policy and for a strenuous public relations campaign directed toward the black community. He had also called for the enlistment and commissioning of a significant number of Negroes in the Regular Navy, and he wanted commanders indoctrinated in their racial responsibilities. Casting further afield, Granger had warned that discriminatory policies and practices in shipyards and other establishments must be eliminated, and employment opportunities for black civilians in the department broadened.59
The committee deliberated on all these points, and, after meeting several times, announced in May 1945 its findings and recommendations. It found that the Navy's current policies were sound and when properly executed produced good results. At the same time it saw a need for periodic reviews to insure uniform application of policy and better public relations. Such findings could be expected from a body headed by a senior official of the personnel bureau, but the committee then came up with the unexpected—a series of recommendations for sweeping change. Revealing the influence of the Special Programs Unit, the committee asked that Negroes be declared available for assignment to all types of ships and shore stations in all classifications, with selections made solely on merit. Since wholesale reassignments were impractical, the committee recommended well-planned, gradual assimilation—it avoided the word integration—as the best policy for ending the concentration of Negroes at shore activities. It also attacked the Steward's Branch as the conspicuous symbol of the Negroes' second-class status and called for the assignment of white stewards and allowing qualified stewards to transfer to general service.
The committee wanted the Judge Advocate General to assign legal advisers to all major trials, especially those involving minorities, to prevent errors in courts-martial that might be construed as discrimination. It further recommended that Negroes be represented in the secretary's public relations office; that news items concerning Negroes be more widely disseminated through bureau bulletins; and, finally, that all bureaus as well as the Coast Guard and Marine Corps be encouraged to enroll commanders in special indoctrination programs before they were assigned to units with substantial numbers of Negroes.60
The committee's recommendations, submitted to Under Secretary Bard on 22 May 1945, were far more than an attempt to unify the racial practices of the various subdivisions of the Navy Department. For the first time, senior representatives of the department's often independent branches accepted the contention of the Special Programs Unit that segregation was militarily inefficient and a gradual but complete integration of the Navy's general service was the solution to racial problems.
Yet as a formula for equal treatment and opportunity in the Navy, the committee's recommendations had serious omissions. Besides overlooking the dearth of black officers and the Marine Corps' continued strict segregation, the committee had ignored Granger's key proposal that Negroes be guaranteed a place in the Regular Navy. Almost without exception, Negroes in the Navy's general service were reservists, products of wartime volunteer enlistment or the draft. All but a few of the black regulars were stewards. Without assurance that many of these general service reservists would be converted to regulars or that provision would be made for enlistment of black regulars, the committee's integration recommendations lacked substance. Secretary Forrestal must have been aware of these omissions, but he ignored them. Perhaps the problem of the Negro in the postwar Navy seemed remote during this last, climactic summer of the war.
GRANGER WITH CREWMEN OF A NAVAL YARD CRAFT [Photograph not included.]
To document the status of the Negro in the Navy, Forrestal turned again to Lester Granger. Granger had acted more than once as the secretary's eyes and ears on racial matters, and the association between the two men had ripened from mutual respect to close rapport.61 During August 1945 Granger visited some twenty continental installations for Forrestal, including large depots and naval stations on the west coast, the Great Lakes Training Center, and bases and air stations in the south. Shortly after V-J day Granger launched a more ambitious tour of inspection that found him traveling among the 45,000 Negroes assigned to the Pacific area.
Unlike the Army staff, whose worldwide quest for information stressed black performance in the familiar lessons-learned formula and only incidentally treated those factors that affected performance, Granger, a civilian, never really tried to assess performance. He was, however, a race relations expert, and he tried constantly to discover how the treatment accorded Negroes in the Navy affected their performance and to pass on his findings to local commanders. He later explained his technique. First, he called on the commanding officer for facts and opinions on the performance and morale of the black servicemen. Then he proceeded through the command, unaccompanied, interviewing Negroes individually as well as in small and large groups. Finally, he returned to the commanding officer to pass along grievances reported by the men and his own observations on the conditions under which they served.62
Granger always related the performance of enlisted men to their morale. He pointed out to the commanders that poor morale was at the bottom of the Port Chicago mass mutiny and the Guam riot, and his report to the secretary confirmed the experiences of the Special Programs Unit: black performance was deeply affected by the extent to which Negroes felt victimized by racial discrimination or handicapped by segregation, especially in housing, messing, and military and civilian recreational facilities. Although no official policy on segregated living quarters existed, Granger found such segregation widely practiced at naval bases in the United States. Separate housing meant in most cases separate work crews, thereby encouraging voluntary segregation in mess halls. In some cases the Navy's separate housing was carried over into nearby civilian communities where no segregation existed before. In others shore patrols forced segregation on civilian places of entertainment, even when state laws forbade it. On southern bases, especially, many commanders willingly abandoned the Navy's ban against discrimination in favor of the racial practices of local communities. There enforced segregation was widespread, often made explicit with "colored" and "white" signs.
Yet Granger found encouraging exceptions which he passed along to local commanders elsewhere. At Camp Perry, Virginia, for example, there was a minimum of segregation, and the commanding officer had intervened to see that Virginia's segregated bus laws did not apply to Navy buses operating between the camp and Norfolk. This situation was unusual for the Navy although integrated busing had been standard practice in the Army since mid-1944. He found Camp Perry "a pleasant contrast" to other southern installations, and from his experiences there he concluded that the attitude of the commanding officer set the pace. "There is practically no limit," Granger said, "to the progressive changes in racial attitudes and relationships which can be made when sufficiently enlightened and intelligent officer leadership is in command." The development of hard and fast rules, he concluded, was unnecessary, but the Bureau of Naval Personnel must constantly see to it that commanders resisted the "influence of local conventions."
At Pearl Harbor Granger visited three of the more than two hundred auxiliary ships manned by mixed crews. On two the conditions were excellent. The commanding officer in each case had taken special pains to avoid racial differentiation in ratings, assignments, quarters, and messes; efficiency was superior, morale was high, and racial conflict was absent. On the third ship Negroes were separated; they were specifically assigned to a special bunk section in the general crew compartment and to one end of the chow table. Here there was dissatisfaction among Negroes and friction with whites.
At the naval air bases in Hawaii performance and morale were good because Negroes served in a variety of ratings that corresponded to their training and ability. The air station in Oahu, for example, had black radar operators, signalmen, yeomen, machinist mates, and others working amiably with whites; the only sign of racial separation visible was the existence of certain barracks, no different from the others, set aside for Negroes.
Morale was lowest in black base companies and construction battalions. In several instances able commanding officers had availed themselves of competent black leaders to improve race relations, but in most units the racial situation was generally poor. Granger regarded the organization of the units as "badly conceived from the racial standpoint." Since base companies were composed almost entirely of nonrated men, spaces for black petty officers were lacking. In such units the scaffold of subordinate leadership necessary to support and uphold the authority of the officers was absent, as were opportunities for individual advancement. Some units had been provisionally re-formed into logistic support companies, and newly authorized ratings were quickly filled. This partial remedy had corrected some deficiencies, but left unchanged a number of the black base companies in the Pacific area. Although construction battalions had workers of both races, Granger reported them to be essentially segregated because whites were assigned to headquarters or to supervisory posts. Some officers had carried this arbitrary segregation into off-duty areas, one commander contending that strict segregation was the civilian pattern and that everyone was accustomed to it.
The Marine Corps lagged far behind the rest of the naval establishment, and there was little pretense of conforming with the Navy's racial policy. Black marines remained rigidly segregated and none of the few black officer candidates, all apparently well qualified, had been commissioned. Furthermore, some black marines who wanted to enlist as regulars were waiting word whether they could be included in the postwar Marine Corps. Approximately 85 percent of the black marines in the Pacific area were in depot and ammunition companies and steward groups. In many cases their assignments failed to match their qualifications and previous training. Quite a few specialists complained of having been denied privileges ordinarily accorded white men of similar status—for example, opportunities to attend schools for first sergeants, musicians, and radar operators. Black technicians were frequently sent to segregated and hastily constructed schools or detached to Army installations for schooling rather than sent to Marine Corps schools. Conversely, some white enlisted men, assigned to black units for protracted periods as instructors, were often accorded the unusual privilege of living in officers' quarters and eating in the officers' mess in order to preserve racial segregation.
Most black servicemen, Granger found, resented the white fleet shore patrols in the Pacific area which they considered biased in handling disciplinary cases and reporting offenders. The commanding officer of the shore patrol in Honolulu defended the practice because he believed the use of Negroes in this duty would be highly dangerous. Granger disagreed, pointing to the successful employment of black shore patrols in such fleet liberty cities as San Diego and Miami. He singled out the situation in Guam, which was patrolled by an allwhite Marine Corps guard regarded by black servicemen as racist in attitude. Frequently, racial clashes occurred, principally over the attentions of native women, but it was the concentration of Negroes in the naval barracks at Guam, Granger concluded, along with the lack of black shore patrols, that intensified racial isolation, induced a suspicion of racial policies, and aggravated resentment.
At every naval installation Granger heard vigorous complaints over the contrast between black and white ratings and promotions. Discrepancies could be explained partly by the fact that, since the general service had been opened to Negroes fairly late in the war, many white men had more than two years seniority over any black. But Granger found evidence that whites were transferred into units to receive promotions and ratings due eligible black members. In many cases, he found "indisputable racial discrimination" by commanding officers, with the result that training was wasted, trained men were prevented from acquiring essential experience and its rewards, and resentment smoldered.
Evidence of overt prejudice aside, Granger stressed again and again that the primary cause of the Navy's racial problems was segregation. Segregation was "impractical and inefficient," he pointed out, because racial isolation bred suspicion, which in turn inflamed resentment, and finally provoked insubordination. The best way to integrate Negroes, Granger felt, was to take the most natural course, that is, eliminate all special provisions, conditions, or cautions regarding their employment. "There should be no exceptional approach to problems involving Negroes," he counseled, "for the racial factor in naval service will disappear only when problems involving Negroes are accepted as part of the Navy's general program for insuring efficient performance and first-class discipline."
Despite his earlier insistence on a fair percentage of Negroes in the postwar Regular Navy, Granger conceded that the number and proportion would probably decrease during peacetime. It was hardly likely, he added, that black enlistment would exceed 5 percent of the total strength, a manageable proportion. He even saw some advantages in smaller numbers, since, as the educational standards for all enlistees rose, the integration of relatively few but better qualified Negroes would "undoubtedly make for greater racial harmony and improved naval performance."
Despite the breadth and acuity of his observations, Granger suggested remarkedly few changes. Impressed by the progress made in the treatment of Negroes during the war, he apparently expected it to continue uninterrupted. Although his investigations uncovered basic problems that would continue to trouble the Navy, he did not recognize them as such. For his part, Forrestal sent Granger's voluminous reports with their few recommendations to his military staff and thanked the Urban League official for his contribution.63
Although different in approach and point of view, Granger's observations neatly complemented the findings and recommendations of the Committee on Negro Personnel. Both reinforced the secretary's postwar policy aims and both supported his gradualist approach to racial reform. Granger cited segregation, in particular the concentration of masses of black sailors, as the principal cause of racial unrest and poor morale among Negroes. The committee urged the gradual integration of the general service in the name of military efficiency. Granger and the committee also shared certain blind spots. Both were encouraged by the progress toward full-scale integration that occurred during the war, but this improvement was nominal at best, a token bow to changing conditions. Their assumption that integration would spread to all branches of the Navy neglected the widespread and deeply entrenched opposition to integration that would yield only to a strategy imposed by the Navy's civilian add military leaders. Finally, the hope that integration would spread ignored the fact that after the war few Negroes except stewards would be able to meet the enlistment requirements for the Regular Navy. In short, the postwar Navy, so far as Negroes were concerned, was likely to resemble the prewar Navy.
The search for a postwar racial policy led the Army and Navy down some of the same paths. The Army manpower planners decided that the best way to avoid the inefficient black divisions was to organize Negroes into smaller, and therefore, in their view, more efficient segregated units in all the arms and services. At the same time Secretary Forrestal's advisers decided that the best way to avoid the concentration of Negroes who could not be readily assimilated in the general service was to integrate the small remnant of black specialists and leave the majority of black sailors in the separate Steward's Branch. In both instances the experiences of World War II had successfully demonstrated to the traditionalists that large-scale segregated units were unacceptable, but neither service was yet ready to accept large-scale integration as an alternative.
1This discussion is based in great part on Arnold M. Rose, "The American Negro Problem in the Context of Social Change," Annakof the academy of Political Science 257 (January 1965):1-17; Rustin, Strategiesfor Freedom, pp. 26-46; Leonard Broom and Norval Glenn, Transformation of the Negro Amencan (New York: Harper and Row, 1965); St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton, Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1970); John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro America, Id ed. (New York: Knopf, 1967); Woodward's The Strange Career of km Crow;Seymour Wolfbein, "Postwar Trends in Negro Employment," a report by the Occupational Outlook Division, Bureau of Labor Statistics, in CMH; Oscar Handlin, "The Goals of Integration," and Kenneth B. Clark, "The Civil Rights Movement: Momentum and Organization, " both in Dacdalus 95 (Winter 1966).
2For a discussion of this trend, see Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Social and Economic Conditions of Negroes in the United States" (Current Population Reports P23, October 1967); see also Charles S. Johnson, "The Negro Minority," Annals of the academy of Political Science 223 (September 1942):10-16.
3Selective Service System, Special Groups, vol. 1, pp. 177-78; see also Robert C. Weaver, "Negro Labor Since 1929," The Journa/ of Negro History 35 January 1950):20-38.
4E. Franklin Frazier, The Negro in the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1957), p. 513.
5Clark, "The Civil Rights Movement," pp. 240-47.
6Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, 1 March 1968, Kerner Report (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1968), pp. 104-05; see also Dalfiume, Desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces, pp. 132-34. For a detailed account of the major riot, see R. Shogan and T. Craig, The Detroit Race Riot: A Study in Violence (New York: Chilton Books, 1964).
7Bernard De Voto, "The Easy Chair, " Harper's 192 (January 1946):38-39.
8Ltr, John H. Caldwell (Hartsdale, New York) to the Editor, Harper's 192 (March 1946): unnumbered front pages.
9Ltr, Sen. W. Lee O'Daniel of Texas to SW 27 Feb 46, ASW 291.2 (1946).
10This important incident in the Air Force’s racial history has been well documented. See AAF Summary Sheet, 5 May 45, sub: Racial Incidents at Freeman Field and Ft. Huachuca, Arizona, and Memo, Maj Gen H. R. Harmon, ACofS, AAF, for DCofS, 29 May 45, both in WDGAP 291.2. See also Memo, The Inspector General for DCofS, 1 May 45, sub: Investigation at Freeman Field, WDSIG 291.2 Freeman Field, and Memo, Truman Gibson for ASW, 14 May 45, ASW 291.2 NT. For a critical contemporary analysis, see Hq Air Defense Command, "The Training of Negro Combat Units by the First Air Force" (Monograph 111, May 1946), vol. 1, ch. 111, AFSHRC. The incident is also discussed in Osur, Flacks in the Army Air ForceJ During World War II, ch. Vl, and in Alan L. Gropman's The Air Force Integrates, 1945-1964 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1978). Gropman's work is the major source for the history of Negroes in the postwar Air Force.
11Memo, ASW for SW, 4 Jun 45; Memo, SGS for DCofS, 7 Jun 45, sub: Report of Advisory Committee on Special Troop Policies, both in ASW 291.2 (NT).
12OPD Summary Sheet,to CofS, 2 Apr 46, CS 291.2 Negroes; Memo, WD Bureau of Public Relations for Press, 5 Jan 46; Ltr, Exec to Actg ASW to P. Bernard Young, Jr., Norfolk Journal and Guide, 14 Dec 45, ASW 291.2.
13ALNAV 423-45, 12 Dec 45.
14Memo, Marcus H. Ray, Civ Aide to SW, for ASW, 11 Jun 46, ASW 291 2 (NT).
15See Ltr, Walter White, Secy, NAACP, to SW, 6 May 46, and a host of letters in SW 291.2 file. See also copies of NAACP press releases on the subject in CMH files.
l6Ltr, 28 Feb 46, copy in SW 291.2.
17For a summary of these views, see Warman Welliver, "Report on the Negro Soldier," Harper's 192 (April 1946): 333-38 and back pages.
18Murray, Negro Handbook, 1946-1947, pp. 369-70.
19Ltr, Exec Secy, National Urban League, to President Truman, 27 Aug 45, copy in Forrestal file, GenRecsNav.
20Memos, McCloy for Advisory Committee on Special Troop Policies, 31 Jul and 1 Sep 44, sub: Participation of Negro Troops in the Post-War Military Establishment; Memo, ASW for SW, 10 Jan 45, same sub, all in ASW 291.2 (NT).
21Ltr, John J. McCloy to author, 18 Sep 69, CMH files
22Memo, CofS for McCloy, 25 Aug 45, WDCSA 291.2 Negroes (25 Aug 45).
23Ltr, TAG to CinC, Southwest Pacific Area, et al., 23 May 45, sub: Participation of Negro Troops in PostWar Military Establishment, AG 291.2 (23 May 45). On the high-level discussions, see Memo, Maj Gen W. F. Tompkins, Dir, Special Planning Div. for ACofS, G-1, and Personnel Officers of the Air, Ground, and Service Forces, 24 Feb 45, same sub; DF, G-1, WDGS (sol O. G. Haywood, Exec), 8 Mar 45, same sub; Memo, Col G. E. Textor, Dep Dir, WDSSP, for ACofS, G- 1, 10 Mar 45, same sub; Memo for the File (sol Lawrence Westbrook), 16 Mar45; Memo, Maj Bell 1. Wiley for Col Mathews, 18Apr45, all in AG 291.2.
24Memo, Gibson for ASW, 30 May 45, ASW 291.2 (NT).
25Ltr, Gibson to Gen John C. H. Lee, CG, ComZ, ETOUSA, 31 Mar 45, ASW 291.2 (NT).
26Memo, Truman Gibson for Maj Gen O. L. Nelson, 12 Mar 45, sub: Report on Visit to 92d Division (NegroTroops), ASW291,2.
27"NegroSoldierBetrayed," Crisis 52 (April 1945):97; "Gibson Echo," ibid. (July 1945):193.
28Washington Afro-American, April 15, 1945, quoted in Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, p. 579. For details of the Gibson controversy, see Lee, pp. 575-79.
29Mark W. Clark, A Calculated Risk (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1950), pp. 414-15.
30Ltr, Ray to Gibson, 14 May 45, WDGAP 291.2. Ray later succeeded Gibson as Civilian Aide to the Secretary of War.
311st Ind, Hq Fifth Army (signed L. K. Truscott, Jr.), 30 Jul 45, to Proceedings and Board of Review, 92d Div, Fifth Army files.
32WD file 291.2 (Negro Troop Policy), 1943-1945, is full Of statements to this effect. The quote is from 2d Ind, Hq USASTAF, 26 Jul 45, attached to AAF summary Sheets to CofS, 17 Sep 45, sub Participation Of Negro Troops in the Post-War Military Establishment, AG 291.2 (23 May 45).
33K. Truscott, Jr., Command Missions: A Personal Story (New York Dutton, 1959), see pages 461-62 and 471-72 for comparison of Truscott critical analysis of problems of the 34th and 92d Infantry Divisions.
34Interv, author with General Jacob Devers, 30 Mar 71, CMH files.
35Ltr, Lt Gen Edward M. Almond to Brig Gen James L. Collins, Jr., 1 Apr 72, CMH files. General Almond’s views are thoroughly explored in Paul Goodman, A Fragment of Victory (Army War College, 1952). For an objective and detailed treatment of the 92d Division, see Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, Chapter XLX, and Ernest P. Fisher, Jr., Cassino to the Alps, United States Army in World War II (Washington Government Printing Office, 1977), Chapter XXIII.
36A third black division, the 2d Cavalry, never saw combat because it was disbanded upon arrival in the Mediterranean theater.
37Rad, Marshall to Lt Gen Millard Harmon, CG, USAFISPA, 18 Mar 44, CM-OUT 75 14 (1 8 Mar 44).
38Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, pp. 498-517. Lee discusses here the record of the 93d Infantry Division and War Department decisions concerning its use.
39The above digested reports and quotations are from Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, pp. , 13-17.
40USAFFE Board Reports No. 185, 20 Jan 45, and 221, 25 Feb 45, sub: Information on Colored Troops. These reports were prepared at the behest of the commanding general of the Army Ground Forces during the preparation of Bell I Wiley's The Training of Negro Troops (AGE Study No. 36, 1946). The quotation is from Exhibit K of USAFFE Board Report No. 221.
41E. W. Kenworthy, "The Case Against Army Segregation," Annals of the American Academy of Political Science 275 (Mat 1952):28-29. A low decoration to casualty ratio is traditionally used as one measure of good unit performance. However, so many different unit attitudes and standards for decorations existed during World War II that any argument over ratios can only be self-defeating no matter what the approach.
42Memo, Gibson for ASW, 23 Apr 45, sub Report of visit to MTO and ETO, ASW 291.2 (NT); see also Interv, Bell I. Wiley with Truman K. Gibson, Civilian Aide to Secretary of War, 30 May 45, CMH files.
43Eventually over thirty-five commands responded to the McCloy questionnaire. For examples Of the attitudes mentioned above, see Ltr, HQ, u.s. Forces, European Theater (Main) to TAG, 1 Oct 45, sub: Study of Participation of Negro Troops in the Postwar Establishment; Ltr, HQ, U.S.. Forces, India, Burma Theater, to TAG, 28 Aug45, same sub; Ltr, GHQUSARPAC to TAG, 3 Sep 45, same sub. All in AG 291.2 (23 May45). some of these and many others are also located in WDSSP 291.2 (1945).
44Memo, Dir, WDSSP, for CG,s, ASP et al., 23 May 45, sub: Participation of Negro Troops in the Postwar Military Establishment, AG 291.2 (23 May 45).
45Memo, CofS, ASF, for Dir, Special Planning Division, WDSS, 1 Oct 45, sub: Participation of Negro Troops in the Postwar Military Establishment, WDSSP 291.2 (2 Oct 45). On the use of Negroes in the Signal Corps, see the following volumes in the United States Army in World War 11 series: Dulany Terrett, The Signal Corps: The Emergency (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1956); George Raynor Thompson et al., The Signal Corps: Me Test (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1957); George Raynor Thompson and Dixie R. Harris, The Signal Corps: The Outcome (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1966).
46Memo, Ground AG, AGE, for CofSA, 28 Nov 45, sub: Participation of Negro Troops in the Postwar Military Establishment, with Incl, WDSSP 291.2 (27 Dec 45).
47Memo, CG, AAF, for CofSA, 17 Sep 45, sub: Participation of Negro Troops in the Postwar Military Establishment, WDSSP 291.2 (1945). For the final report of 2 Oct 45, which summed up the previous recommendations, see summary Sheet, AC/AS-1 for Maj Gen C.C. Chauncey, DCofAS, 2 Oct 45, same sub and file.
48Ltr, OCSigO (Col David E. Washburn, Exec Off) to WDSSP, 31 Jul 45, sub: Participation of Negro Troops in the Postwar Military Establishment, WDSSP 291.2 (1945).
49Ltr, Maj Gen James L. Collins, CG, Fifth Service Cmd, to CG, ASP, 24 Jul 45, sub: Participation of Negro Troops in the Postwar Military Establishment, WDSSP 291.2.
50Memo, CG, First Service Cmd, for CG, ASF, 23 Jul 45, sub: Participation of Negro Troops in the Postwar Military Establishment WDSSP 291.2 (1945).
51Memo, Truman Gibson for ASW, 8 Aug 45, ASW 291.2.
52Memo, Exec Off, ASW, for McCloy, 28 Aug 45, ASW 291.2 (NT).
53Memos, Col Frederick S. Skinner for Dir, Special Planning Div. WDSS, 25 May and 2 Jun 45, sub Participation of Negro Troops in the Postwar Military Establishment, WDSSP 291.2 (1945).
54Ltr, Forrestal to Field, 14 Jul 45, 54 - 1-13, Forrestal file, GenRecsNav.
55Ltr, Lester GrangertoSecNav, 19Mar45, 54-1-13, Forrestal file, GenRecsNav.
56Memo, Chief, NavPers, for Cmdr Richard M. Paget (Exec Off, SecNav), 21 Apt 45, sub: Formation of Informal Cmte to Assure Uriiform Policies on the Handling of Negro Personnel, P-17, BuPersRecs.
57Memo, SecNav for Cmdr Richard M. Paget, 16 Apt 45, s4-l-lg, Forrestal file, GenRecsNav.
58Other members of the committee included four senior Navy captains and representatives of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Memo, SecNav for Under SecNav, 25 Apt 45, QB 495/A3-l, GenRecsNav.
59Ltr, Granger to SecNav, 19 Mar 4 5 54- l- 1 3, Forrestal file, GenRecsNav.
60Memo, Cmte on Personnel for Under SecNav, 22 May 45, sub: Report and Recommendations of Committee on Negro Personnel, P. 16-3, GenRecsNav.
61Columbia University Oral Hist Interv with Granger.
62Granger's findings anc1 an account of his inspection technique are located in Ltrs, Granger to SecNav, 4 Aug. 10 Aug. 27 Aug. and 31 Oct 45; and in "Minutes of Press Conference Held by Mr. Lester B. Granger." 1 Nov 45. All in 54-1-13, Forrestal file, GenRecsNav. See also Columbia University Oral Hist Interv with Granger.
63Memo, J.F. [James Forrestal] for Vice Adm Jacobs (Chief of Naval Personnel), 23 Aug 45; Ltr, SecNav to Granger, 29 Dec 45, both in 54-1-13, Forrestal file, GenRecsNav.
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