Reporting the War

Thomas A. Johnson

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Johnson, Thomas A. "Black Servicemen, Last to be Called Up in Past, May Be In Vanguard for Social Change." New York Times, August 17, 1969, p. 54.

African-Americans, who had in previous wars been used only when necessary, were now fighting the first fully integrated war in America's history. The article points out that many in the military thought of it as a way not only to advance their own careers but to help push for acceptance and equality for African-Americans as a whole. The high re-enlistment rate was proof of this (twice as high than for whites in the Air Force, Marines, and Navy and three times as high in the Army). The Defense Department's director for civil rights Judge L. Howard Bennett, an African-American, said it was important for African-Americans in the service to have a positive experience free of racism and inopportunity because, "they can either become the seeds for a dangerous discontent or cadre for leadership in building a better society." The article also gives statistics on the number of African-American officers in the service as well as the number of African-Americans in specific officer ranks.

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