On this day, Oct. 19, in 1944, the U.S. Navy began admitting African-American women to serve as administrative officers in the Women’s Reserve of the U.S. Navy. Despite this groundbreaking order, Black women remained largely unrepresented in the naval branch.
Of the more than 80,000 women serving during World War II, only 72 were African-American. The U.S. military’s history of racial segregation formally came to an end on July 26, 1948, when President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, the legislation that integrated all branches of the U.S. armed forces.
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