Separate but Equal? African Americans Defending Our Nation


General History and Biographies

Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940-1965
This book focuses on World War II and the following years, discussing each branch of the military separately.
The Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Huachuca
Huachuca Illustrated Volume 1, 1993
Huachuca Illustrated Volume 2, 1996
Huachuca Illustrated Volume 3, 1999 
These issues of Huachuca Illustrated describe the history of African Americans in the Army, focusing on the army installation where many of the first African American soldiers were based. “Buffalo soldiers” was the name given to African American soldiers by the American Indians they fought during the 19th Century.
African Americans in the Coast Guard
This site is a compilation of history, biographies, bibliographies, photos, and other information on African Americans in the Coast Guard.
General Daniel ‘Chappie’ James, Jr., United States Air Force
Biography of the Commander in Chief of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), who began serving in the Air Force as one of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Lieutenant General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., United States Air Force
Lt. General Davis graduated from West Point in 1936, and was also one of the Tuskegee Airmen.  He commanded the 99th Pursuit Squadron during World War II.  He was the first African American in the Air Force to earn a star and went on to serve as Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Environment, Safety, and Consumer Affairs in the Nixon Administration.
Former Pug “Kid Odell” reflects on Navy Career
An interview about segregation and prejudice with an African American who served in the Navy from 1936-1956.


Before 1946

“They called us bluejackets”: The Transformation of Self-emancipated Slaves from Contrabands of War to Fighting Sailors in the South Atlantic Blocking Squadron during the Civil War
This article from the International Journal of Naval History describes the participation of escaped slaves in the Union Navy during the Civil War.
Scott’s Official History of the American Negro in the World War
This book about African Americans in World War I was written in 1919 by a special adjutant to the Secretary of War who was also Booker T. Washington’s private secretary for eighteen years.
Fighting at Home and Abroad: Chronicle of the African American Soldier in World War I A portion of the Library of Congress’s electronic exhibit, African American Odyssey, that highlights items in their collection related to African American soldiers in World War I.
United States Army in World War II: The Employment of Negro Troops   
This book about African Americans in the military between the end of World War I and the end of World War II was written and published by the Center for Military History in 1966, when segregation was a huge issue in American life.  Later editions of this book are available in print.
Tuskegee Airmen 
Beginning in 1941, African American Air Force personnel were trained separately, at Tuskegee Institute (founded by Booker T. Washington in 1888) and at Tuskegee Air Field, Alabama.  The 99th Fighter Squadron, which was trained at Tuskegee, was legendary for its successes in World War II. A bibliography about the Tuskegee Airmen compiled by Air University is available at (call numbers refer to the Air University collection).  The airfield has also been designated as the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site.
African Americans Segregated into Separate Units
During World War II, many African Americans in the Air Force served as engineers and construction workers in Engineer Aviation Battalions.
African American Volunteers As Infantry Replacements
A description from the Center for Military History of the manpower shortage that led to African American units being used in combat in Europe during World War II, which in turn led to integrated platoons.
Minority Groups in World War II 
This short article from the Center for Military History contains statistics on all minority groups that served in the military.


Postwar Negro Manpower Policy 
The Army adopted this policy in 1946 on the recommendation of the Gillem Board appointed by President Truman.
Executive Order 9981
This executive order, signed by President Truman in July 1948, mandated equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces.
Truman Administration and the Desegregation of the Armed Forces 
A timeline of events related to the desegregation of the U.S. military during the Truman Administration (1945-1953).
Black Soldier, White Army: The 24th Infantry in Korea An 1996 report from the Center for Military History on the performance of an African American infantry unit in the Korean War.