A. Attempts at Appeasement

1. The McCloyCommittee

As World War II progressed, many military leaders realized that their separate-but-equal policy was not working. Not only was it inefficient in terms of troop utilization, it was also disastrous for the morale and discipline of black troops. As a result of the failure of the Army's Negro policy, the War Department established the Advisory Committee on Negro Troop Policies (McCloy Committee) in August 1942. The McCloy Committee was charged with making the separate-but-equal policy work, a monumental task in light of the policy's inherent flaw: the fact that separate was inherently unequal.

The War Department's acknowledgement of black rights consciousness and discontent was reflected in a letter from Colonel J. S. Leonard to Secretary McCloy. Therein, Colonel Leonard recognized growing discontent, citing a New York Times article which contained several demands of the Army. The demands included, among others, "[f]ull integration of the Negro into the armed forces without segregation, . . . [a]bolition of quotas by race in the Medical Corps, Nurses Corps, technical and other branches of the service, . . . [a]bolition of segregation in recreational and other facilities at Army posts,. . . [and] *98 [a]bolition of segregation of blood plasma." Colonel Leonard advised that "information dealing with the special problem of Negro troops [be] made available," since many of the problems of blacks probably came as a result of the fact that many officers had no previous experience with blacks in civilian life.

The Committee's response to complaints like Colonel Leonard's was measured, and the policies enacted by the Committee did bear some fruit. The Committee was successful in convincing combat commanders to accept black infantry divisions and other combat units, and it made some headway in obtaining more black officers and improving the quality of white officers who commanded black organizations. Unsurprisingly, the Committee made bolder steps in late 1943 during Truman's heated presidential campaign. Throughout that time, better relations were established between the War Department and the Negro press. A movie publicizing blacks' contribution to the war was produced and informational pamphlets explaining the official War Department position on Negro soldiers were distributed. In July 1944, the McCloy Committee attempted to direct all facilities, including theaters, post exchanges, and transportation, to be utilized without restriction because of race; this directive had little effect because by the time the order was issued, most military posts had constructed completely separate facilities, and commanders continued segregation as usual. Perhaps the most important contribution made by the McCloy Committee was its encouragement of the use of black troops in the war. However, it was not until December 1944 that black platoons and companies were regularly used within frontline divisions.

In spite of the advancements made by the McCloy Committee, it fell woefully short of its goal of improving troop morale and increasing military efficiency through increased use of black troops on the front lines. The shortfalls of the committee led one of its members, General Benjamin O. Davis, to charge the committee with perpetuation of Jim Crow practices by failing to recognize that separate was inherently unequal. Much more had to be done before equality for black servicemen could be achieved. The McCloy Committee disbanded shortly after the conclusion of the war.

2. The Gillem Group and the Gillem Report

As it became more apparent that the War Department's separate-but-equal policy was faulty, Secretary Mc- Cloy recommended to the Secretary of War that a special board of officers be appointed to consider a reevaluation of Negro policy in order that black manpower be used more efficiently in the post-war military. The Gillem Board, named after its chairman, General Alvan C. Gillem, was established on October 1, 1945. After extensive interviews with top military officials and evaluation of documentary materials, the Board issued its report on November 17, 1945. 1 The Gillem Report (also known as War Department Circular 124) would state the military's policy regarding Negro troops from the date of its announcement until 1948. The board based its findings on two foundational principles: blacks had a constitutional right and obligation to fight, and the Army was obligated to make the most effective use of every soldier, including black soldiers. Recognizing that blacks were used inefficiently during World War II, the Gillem Report recommended several steps to improve the Army's utilization of black manpower. Recommendations included: integration of blacks into overhead units (i.e. administrative jobs); ensuring that blacks formed ten percent of the Army; that black units be integrated into composite white units; that the number of black officers be increased and afforded equal rights and opportunities for advancement; continued enforcement of War Department policy that post recreational facilities be used without regard to race; and the creation of a staff group to ensure the new Negro policy was implemented. 1

Despite its ambitious recommendations, the Gillem Board was unsuccessful in effecting change. 1 The main reason for its failure was that the Board did not challenge the premise of the Army's overall policy regarding blacks: segregation. The report did not clearly spell out a policy toward integration. It appeared as if the true goal of the Gillem Board was to allow segregation to continue, while slowly removing *100 discrimination; the Board did not see segregation as discrimination. The Gillem Report received varied reviews from the Negro press and leadership. Roy Wilkins of the NAACP and Lester Granger of the National Urban League criticized the report for "leaving unanswered certain questions of segregation," citing that the policy was "a little foggy and [fell] far short of its advance advertising that it would abolish segregation in the Army." The Gillem Report did receive at least one positive review from the Negro press. The conservative Pittsburgh Courier gave a favorable review of the Report, commending it for "officially" rejecting the idea that black troops were inferior and could only serve in noncombatant roles. 1 However, even the Courier eventually carried pieces critiquing the Report, to include one that proclaimed that "[t]his new Army directive indicates that the Army command has undergone no real change of heart. . . ." 1 Conflicting statements from military leadership did not help the confusion generated by the report. In 1946, Secretary of War Patterson informed the Negro press that the policy espoused in the report meant that segregation was no longer required; in 1948, Patterson's successor Kenneth Royall described the policy as providing "equality of opportunity on the basis of segregation."

There was an inherent inequity on the face of the new Negro policy; it claimed as a goal maximum use of all available American manpower, yet at the same time it imposed a ten percent quota on the number of blacks hired for military employment. This fallacy was pointed out by the Commander of the Army Air Forces, Carl Spaatz. In a memorandum to the Chief of Staff, General Spaatz provided the following blunt feedback:

[I]t is believed that the proposed approach to the utilization of this manpower is faulty. Never in history has an Army selected its manpower on the basis of a proportionate share of the population, be that selection on the basis of color or creed. The basis for selection which has been used by all armies in peacetime is that of professional ability. Selection on any other basis would be wasteful and inefficient . . . .

1 *101 The new Negro policy presented in the Gillem Report did nothing to change the military's separate-but-equal policy. Once again, further work needed to be done, and many blacks, to include soldiers, those wanting to be soldiers, and A. Philip Randolph, were running out of patience.

3. Universal Military Training

When an individual enters the service of the country, he necessarily surrenders some of the rights and privileges which inhere in American citizenship. The government in return undertakes to protect his integrity as an individual and the dignity of his profession. 1

On October 29, 1947, President Harry Truman's specially appointed Committee on Civil Rights issued a report filled with suggestions for strengthening and improving federal, state, and local governments to "safeguard the civil rights of the people." 1 The formation of this committee was spurred by the President's concern over the lynchings, property destruction, and assaults meted out against black servicemen and civilians in 1946. The committee made several specific recommendations regarding the military, all based upon the premises that segregation in the military not only denied black soldiers their right to fight but was also an "inefficient use of human resources," and that by allowing racism to exist in the military, the country was "not making use of one of the most effective techniques for educating the public to the practicability of American ideals as a way of life." 1 The committee made two specific recommendations to the President regarding the military: to encourage the enactment of legislation to end discrimination and segregation in the Armed Services, and legislation ensuring that no serviceman be subject to discrimination by any public authority or place of public accommodation. 1

With the President's Committee on Civil Rights report as a backdrop, proponents of black servicemen's rights were hopeful that positive legislation would ensue. Legislation did ensue, but not the kind of legislation that was desired. Legislation to enact a Universal Military *102 Training (UMT) system was introduced to Congress in late 1947, with hearings on the bill scheduled for 1948. The bill, which called for institution of a peacetime draft and provided policies for peacetime training, had a fundamental flaw: there was no explicit proscription against segregation. 1 Reaction to UMT was swift and sharp. A Crisis editorial captured the sentiment of many blacks: "This is as good a time as any to repeat that the vast body of Negro Americans is opposed to this training as long as it is to be on a segregated basis." Those most directly affected by the enactment of UMT, American youth, also expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed bill. Youth attending the second annual youth legislative conference of the NAACP in March 1948 passed resolutions voicing opposition to a segregated system of military training. 12

It was apparent that UMT would do nothing to change the segregative policies enacted by the Gillem Report. Introduction of the UMT bill was even more audacious in light of the findings by the President's Commission on Civil Rights. The introduction of UMT legislation caused A. Philip Randolph, in cooperation with New York state official Grant Reynolds, to form the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training in November 1947.