July 27, 2008
Executive Order 9981
On Saturday we noted, with pride, the 60th anniversary of Executive Orders 9980 and 9981. Harry Truman, an unlikely leader in the struggle for equality, signed these two incredible orders--9980 integrated the federal workforce and the second integrated the United States Armed forces.
Michael Gardner wrote in his book, "Harry Truman and Civil Rights: Moral Courage and Political Risks, "With the stroke of the presidential pen Truman brought about the most sweeping social change for African-Americans since the Civil War." Colin Powell celebrated the anniversary and ended his speech, "God bless Harry Truman."
Was Truman alone in planning? Of course not. Wisconsin's contribution to this great step forward was presidential adviser Phileo Nash who later became Lt.Governor of Wisconsin with Governor Gaylord Nelson. Nash, as I understand the history, working with Clark Clifford, Tom Clark and others, wrote he first memo to HST calling for integration of the Armed Forces. And the former Senator from Missouri agreed. That took guts. On July 26, 1948, Harry S. Truman did what others only talked about. A great story and one that slips past most of us.
(I had the pleasure of meeting Phileo on the UW campus and later) I was part of the memorial service for his widow, Edith, a poet and progressive. Thank you Phileo and Edith.
Debt Ceiling: Whoa Nelly! The new national debt limit is 10.6 trillion dollars. Remember when we debated how we would spend the surplus from the Clinton administration? Yikes! 10.6 trillion.
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