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Tue, 01.06.1948

Americas Armed Service Integrates Its Women’s Ranks

On this date in 1948, the Armed Services integrated its women’s defense organizations.

Phyllis Mae Dailey was the first, followed by Ensign Edith De Voe as sworn into the Regular Navy Nurse Corps.  In April, First Lieutenant Nancy C. Leftenant entered the Regular Army Nurse Corps, becoming the corps' first Black member.  Following World War II, racial and gender discrimination and segregation persisted in the military. Entry quotas and segregation in the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) deterred many from re-entry between 1946 and 1947. By June 1948, only four Black officers and 121 enlisted women remained in the WAC.

President Truman eliminated segregation, quotas, and discrimination in the Armed Forces by signing Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948. WACs began integrated training and living in April 1950. Affirmative action and changing racial policies opened new doors for Black women. During the Korean and Vietnam Wars, Black women took their places in the war zone.



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