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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Military was far quicker to integrate . . . . . .

Military was far quicker to integrate than rest of society

By Ron Jensen, Stars and Stripes
Scene, Sunday, February 13, 2005

“In a completely integrated unit where you’d have white soldiers, particularly from southern states, serving under [black] noncommissioned officers or officers … I think you would have a problem definitely.”

— Gen. Omar Bradley, 1949

Purnell Sterrett’s first attempt to join America’s military was a bust.

In the years before World War II, the Navy he longed to enter had limited jobs for people like him. Black men, he was told, could serve the Navy only as cooks or bakers.

“I said, ‘If I wanted to learn how to cook or bake, my grandmother could teach me,’ ” recalled Sterrett, who wanted to be a gunner’s mate. “(The recruiter) took my application and dropped it in the trash can.”

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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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