FDR's Decision Not to Desegregate the Military


ighty years ago, on September 27, 1940, two of the most influential civil-rights leaders in the country sat across the desk from President Franklin Roosevelt in the Oval Office. Asa Philip Randolph was the president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Walter White was the secretary of the NAACP. Eleven days earlier, Roosevelt had signed the Selective Service Act, the first peacetime draft in the country’s history. Randolph and White seized the opportunity to come talk to him about desegregating the military. Which was about the last issue Franklin Roosevelt wanted to address in September 1940.

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