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Understandably, the black activists felt betrayed that FDR had, arguably, stabbed them in the back after appearing receptive to the idea of integration.
In view of the upcoming election, FDR decided nevertheless to listen more closely to minority views on greater participation for blacks within the military.
To discuss the issue, Roosevelt held a White House conference on September 27, 1940, with White, Randolph, Hill, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, and Assistant Secretary of War Robert Patterson.
(Editorial cartoons in The Afro-American were another matter, as can be seen from the cartoons illustrating this article).
To more militant black activists, however, this was pathetic behavior.
This policy has been proven satisfactory over a long period of years and to make changes would produce situations destructive to morale and detrimental to the preparation for national defense .
It is the opinion of the War Department that no experiments should be tried with the organizational set-up of these units at this critical time.Trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama, these black pilots endured the harsh slights of racism and prejudice inherent within the U. The all-black 99th Fighter Squadron and the 332nd Fighter Group were unique in that while on escort duty, they never lost an Allied bomber to enemy fightersa record no other U. This article and the accompanying lesson plan will detail the political origins and confrontations of 1940-1941 surrounding the Tuskegee Experiment. Although there was a U. black infantry unit in World War I, it was headed by white officers and allowed to fight only alongside the French army. Army Air Corps had rejected all applications from minorities since World War I, stating that it was impossible to mix blacks and whites together in the same unit.In the succeeding decades before World War II, blacks in the Army were denied entrance to combat groups and could only serve in segregated maintenance and labor units. For years, the military swore by the racist conclusions drawn by the Army War College studies of the 1920s, which declared that the black man lacked the mental and physical capabilities necessary to make an effective soldier.White argued that an army fighting for democracy should be the last place in which to practice undemocratic segregation. According to a conference summary, Roosevelt seemed immediately receptive to the activists call for non segregated units and, with the War and Navy Department representatives, promised to study a memorandum offered by the activists stating their positions on the possibilities for integrated service (see Document B).During the same month (September 1940), the Roosevelt Administration championed and Congress passed the Selective Service and Training Act, otherwise known as the draft.Viewing the War Departments plan as an insult and a step in the wrong direction, White and Randolph continued to lobby (but in vain) for integrated training and service units.At the same time, Air Corps officials remained reluctant to entertain the notion of a black fighter squadron, despite the conditions set forth that it train and operate separately from white units.After considering various proposals, the Pentagon finally decided on North Africa and the Mediterranean Theater as the battleground for the 99th Squadrons initiation into combat.Once there, the squadrons missionunder the command of Tuskegee graduate Colonel Benjamin O.Seeking the considerable African American vote for what promised to be a close election against Republican candidate Wendell Wilkie, the Roosevelt Administration edged toward making changes in the policies that prevented African Americans from serving in combat units. Phillip Randolph, union leader and head of the March on Washington Movement (MOWM).The process of initiating this experiment proved to be lengthy and complex, with the White House dealing with black activists on the one hand and uniformed conservatives on the other. The objectives of Randolphs MOWM included an integrated military and a less prejudiced environment for black defense industry workers.