Wednesday, July 12, 2023

On 75th Anniversary of Women's Armed Services Integration Act Recalling Black Women's Military Leadership Since the Civil War

Wash Post, Black Women's Leadership in the Military Dates to the Civil War

This month marks 75 years since passage of the groundbreaking Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, which permitted women to serve as full members of the U.S. armed forces in every branch. It also marks a decade since the Pentagon reversed its “ground combat exclusion policy.” That had allowed women to serve on combat ships, even though it banned them from serving in direct ground combat.

These changes have been monumental. While women represented just 2 percent of the U.S. military in 1948, they currently constitute roughly 18 percent of the armed forces. Yet a 2020 report shows that fewer than 1 percent of deployed active-duty combat troops are women. A fraction of them are African American women.

While the need to recognize and celebrate these historic milestones is paramount, these commemorations often forget that Black women led armies and fought behind enemy lines during the Civil War — long before President Harry S. Truman signed the historic legislation in 1948. Their military achievements have regularly been erased, eclipsed or distorted in service of building a national narrative that appealed to White Americans. Restoring this history to our understanding of the history of women’s role in the military helps us envision a national narrative that is both closer to the truth and that works for us all.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/gender_law/2023/07/on-75th-anniversary-of-womens-armed-services-integration-act-recalling-black-womens-military-leaders.html

Equal Employment, Legal History, Legislation, Race | Permalink

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