The Defense Department's attitude toward off-base discrimination against servicemen underwent a significant change in the mid-1960's. At first Secretary McNamara relied on his commanders to win from the local communities a voluntary accommodation to his equal opportunity policy. Only after a lengthy interval, during which the accumulated evidence demonstrated that voluntary compliance would, in some cases, not be forthcoming, did he take up the cudgel of sanctions. His use of this powerful economic weapon proved to be circumscribed and of brief duration, but its application against a few carefully selected targets had a salubrious and widespread effect. At the same time developments in the civil rights movement, especially the passage of strong new legislation in 1964, permitted servicemen to depend with considerable assurance upon judicial processes for the redress of their grievances.
Sanctions were distasteful, and almost everyone concerned was anxious to avoid their use. The Gesell Committee wanted them reserved for those recalcitrants who had withstood the informal but determined efforts of local commanders to obtain voluntary compliance. McNamara agreed. "There were plenty of things that the commanders could do in a voluntary way," he said later, and he wanted to give them time "to get to work on this problem."1 His principal civil rights assistants considered it inappropriate to declare businesses or local communities off limits while the services were still in the process of developing voluntary action programs and before the full impact of new federal civil rights legislation on those programs could be tested. As for the services themselves, each was on record as being opposed to any use of sanctions in equal opportunity cases. The 1963 equal opportunity directive of the Secretary of Defense reflected this general reluctance. It authorized the use of sanctions, but in such a carefully restricted manner that for three years agencies of the Department of Defense never seriously contemplated using them.
Despite this obvious aversion to the use of sanctions in equal opportunity cases, the public impression persisted that Secretary McNamara was trying to use military commanders as instruments for forcing the desegregation of civilian communities. Actually, the Gesell Committee and the McNamara directive had demanded no such thing, as the secretary's civil rights deputy was repeatedly forced to point out. Military commanders, Fitt explained, were obligated to protect their men from harm and to secure their just treatment. Therefore, when "harmful civilian discrimination" was directed against men in uniform, "the wise commander seeks to do something about it." Commanders, he observed, did not issue threats or demand social reforms; they merely sought better conditions for servicemen and their families through cooperation and understanding. As for the general problem of racial discrimination in the United States, that was a responsibility of the civilian community, not the services.2
Exhibiting a similar concern for the sensibilities of congressional critics, Secretary McNamara assured the Senate Armed Services Committee that he had no plans "to utilize military personnel as a method of social reform." At the same time he reiterated his belief that troop efficiency was affected by segregation, and added that when such a connection was found to exist "we should work with the community involved." He would base such involvement, he emphasized, on the commander's responsibility to maintain combat readiness and effectiveness.3 Similar reassurances had to be given the military commanders, some of whom saw in the Gesell recommendations a demand for preferential treatment for Negroes and a level of involvement in community affairs that would interfere with their basic military mission.4 To counter this belief, Fitt and his successor hammered away at the Gesell Committee's basic theme: discrimination affects morale; morale affects military efficiency. The commander's activities in behalf of equal opportunity for his men in the community is at least as important as his interest in problems of gambling, vice, and public health, and is in furtherance of his military mission.5
McNamara's civil rights assistants tried to provide explicit guidance on the extent to which it was proper for base commanders to become involved in the community. Fitt organized conferences with base commanders to develop techniques for dealing with off-base discrimination, and his office provided commanders with legal advice to counter the arguments of authorities in segregated communities. Fitt also encouraged commanders to establish liaison with local civil rights groups whose objectives and activities coincided with departmental policy. At his request, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower Paul devised numerous special instructions and asked the services to issue regulations supporting commanders in their attempts to change community attitudes toward black servicemen. These regulations, in turn, called on commanders to enlist community support for equal treatment and opportunity measures, utilizing in the cause their command-community relations committees. Consisting of base officials and local business and community leaders, these committees had originally been organized by the services to improve relations between the base and town. Henceforth, they would become the means by which the local commanders might introduce measures to secure equal treatment for servicemen.6
FIGHTER PILOTS ON THE LINE. Col. Daniel (Chappie) James, Jr., commander of an F-4 jet, and his pilot readying for takeoff from a field in Thailand. [Photograph not included.]
Perhaps the most important, certainly most controversial, of Fitt's moves7 was the establishment of a system to measure the local commanders' progress against off-base discrimination. His vehicle was a series of off-base equal opportunity inventories, the first comprehensive, statistical record of discrimination affecting servicemen in the United States. Based on detailed reports from every military installation to which 500 or more servicemen were assigned, the first inventory covered some 305 bases in forty-eight states and the District of Columbia and nearly 80 percent of the total military population stationed in the United States. Along with detailed surveys of public transportation, education, public accommodations, and housing, the inventory reported on local racial laws and customs, police treatment of black servicemen, the existence of state and local agencies concerned with equal opportunity enforcement, and the base commander's use of command-community relations committees.8
The first inventory confirmed the widespread complaints of special discrimination encountered by black servicemen. It also uncovered interesting patterns in that discrimination. In matters of commercial transportation, local schools, and publicly owned facilities such as libraries and stadiums, the problem of discrimination against black servicemen was confined almost exclusively to areas around installations in the south. But segregated public accommodations such as motels, restaurants, and amusements, a particularly virulent form of discrimination for servicemen, who as transients had to rely on such businesses, existed in all parts of the country including areas as diverse as Iowa, Alaska, Arizona, and Illinois. Discrimination in these states was especially flagrant since all except Arizona had legislation prohibiting enforced segregation of public accommodations. Discrimination in the sale and rental of houses showed a similar pattern. Only thirty installations out of the 305 reporting were located in states with equal housing opportunity statutes. These were in northern states, stretching from Maine to California. At the same time, some of these installations reported discrimination in housing despite existing state legislation forbidding such practices. No differences were reported in the treatment of black and white servicemen with respect to civilian law enforcement except that in some communities black servicemen were segregated when taken into custody for criminal violations.
Generally, the practice of most forms of discrimination was more intense in the south, but the record of other sections of the country was no better than mixed, even where legislation forbade such separate and unequal treatment. Obviously there was much room for progress, and as indicated in the inventory much still could be done within the armed forces themselves. The reports revealed that almost one-third of the commands inventoried failed to form the command-community relations committees recommended by the Gesell Committee and ordered in the services' equal opportunity directives. Of the rest, only sixty-one commands had invited local black leaders to participate in what were supposed to be biracial groups.
The purpose of the follow-up inventories—three were due from each service at six-month intervals—was to determine the progress of local commanders in achieving equal opportunity for their men. The Defense Department showed considerable energy in exacting from commanders comprehensive information on the state of equal opportunity in their communities.9 In fact, this rather public exposition proved to be the major reporting system on equal opportunity progress, the strongest inducement for service action, and the closest endorsement by the department of the Gesell Committee's call for an accountability system.
The first follow-up inventory revealed some progress in overcoming discrimination near military installations, but progress was slight everywhere and in some areas of concern nonexistent. Discrimination in schooling for dependents off base, closely bound to the national problem of school desegregation, remained a major difficulty. Commanders reported that discrimination in public accommodations was more susceptible to command efforts, but here, too, in some parts of the country, communities were resisting change. A Marine Corps commander, for example, reported the successful formation of a command-community relations committee at his installation near Albany, Georgia, but to inquiries concerning the achievements of this committee the commander was forced to reply "absolutely none." l0
Some forms of discrimination seemed impervious to change. Open housing, for one, was the exception rather than the rule throughout the country. One survey noted the particular difficulty this created for servicemen, especially the many enlisted men who lived in trailers and could find no unsegregated place to park.ll At times the commanders' efforts to improve the situation seemed to compound the problem. The stipulation that only open housing be listed with base housing officers served more to reduce the number of listings than to create opportunities for open housing. Small wonder then that segregated housing, "the most pervasive and most intractable injustice of all," in Alfred Fitt's words, was generally ignored while the commanders and civil rights officials concentrated instead on the more easily surmountable forms of discrimination. 12
At least part of the reason for the continued existence of housing discrimination against servicemen lay in the fact that the Department of Defense continued to deny itself the use of its most potent equal opportunity weapon. Well into 1964, Fitt could report that no service had contemplated the use of sanctions in an equal opportunity case.l3 Nor had housing discrimination ever figured prominently in any decision to close a military base. At Fitt's suggestion, Assistant Secretary Paul proposed that community discrimination patterns be listed as one of the reasons for closing military bases.14 Although the Assistant Secretary for Installations and Logistics, Thomas D. Morris, agreed to consult such information during deliberations on closings, he pointed out that economics and operational suitability were the major factors in determining a base's value. 15 As late as December 1964, an official of the Office of the Secretary of Defense was publicly explaining that "discrimination in the community is certainly a consideration, but the military effectiveness and justification of an installation must be primary.16
Clearly, voluntary compliance had its limits, and Fitt said as much on the occasion of his departure after a year's assignment as the civil rights deputy. Reviewing the year's activities for Gesell, Fitt concluded that "we have done everything we could think of" in formulating civil rights policy and in establishing a monitoring system for its enforcement. He was confident that the department's campaign against discrimination had gained enough momentum to insure continued progress. If, as he put it, the "off-base lot of the Negro serviceman will not in my time be the same as that of his white comrade-in-arms" he was nevertheless satisfied that the Department of Defense was committed to equal opportunity and that commitment was "bound to be beneficial."17
Fitt's assessment was accurate, no doubt, but not exactly in keeping with the optimistic spirit of the Gesell Committee and Secretary McNamara's subsequent equal opportunity commitment to the President. Obviously more could be achieved through voluntary compliance if the threat of legal sanctions were available. In the summer of 1964, therefore, the Defense Department's manpower officials turned to new federal civil rights legislation for help.
The need for strong civil rights legislation had become increasingly apparent in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education.18 With that decision, the judicial branch finally lined up definitively with the executive in opposition to segregation. But the effect of this united opposition was blunted by the lack of a strong civil rights law, something that President Kennedy had not been able to wrestle from a reluctant legislative branch. The demands of the civil rights movement only underscored the inability of court judgments and executive orders alone to guarantee the civil rights of all Americans. Such a profound social change in American society required the concerted action of all three branches of government, and by 1963 the drive for strong civil rights legislation had made such legislation the paramount domestic political issue. Lyndon Johnson fully understood its importance. "We have talked long enough in this country about equal rights," he told his old colleagues in Congress, "we have talked for one hundred years or more. It is time now to write the next chapter, and to write it in the books of law."19
He was peculiarly fitted for the task. A southerner in quest of national support, Johnson was determined for very practical reasons to carry out the civil rights program of his slain predecessor and to end the long rule of Jim Crow in many areas of the country. He let it be known that he would accept no watered down law.
I made my position [on the civil rights bill] unmistakably clear: We were not prepared to compromise in any way. "So far as this administration is concerned," I told repress conference, "its position is firm." I wanted absolutely no room for bargaining.... I knew that the slightest wavering on my part would give hope to the opposition's strategy of amending the bill to death.20
Certainly this pronouncement was no empty rhetoric, coming as it did from a consummate master of the legislative process who enjoyed old and close ties with congressional leaders.
Johnson was also philosophically committed to change. "Civil rights was really something that was, by this time, burning pretty strongly in Johnson," Harris L. Wofford later noted.21 The new President exhorted his countrymen: "To the extent that Negroes were imprisoned, so was I.... to the extent that Negroes were free, really free, so was I. And so was my country."22 Skillfully employing the wave of sympathy for equal rights that swept the country after John Kennedy's death, President Johnson procured a powerful civil rights act, which he signed on 2 July 1964.23
The object of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was no less than the overthrow of segregation in America. Its major provisions outlawed discrimination in places of amusement and public accommodation, in public education, labor unions, employment, and housing. It called for federal intervention in voting rights cases and established a Community Relations Service in the Department of Commerce to arbitrate racial disputes. The act also strengthened the Civil Rights Commission and broadened its powers. It authorized the United States Attorney General and private citizens to bring suit in discrimination cases, outlining the procedures for such cases. Most significant were the sweeping provisions of the law's Title VI that forbade discrimination in any activity or program that received federal financial assistance. This added the threat of economic sanctions against any of those thousands of institutions, whether public or private, which, while enjoying federal benefactions, discriminated against citizens because of race. Accurately characterized as the "most effective instrument yet found for the elimination of racial discrimination,"24 Title VI gave the federal government leave to cut segregation and discrimination out of the body politic. In Professor Woodward's words, "a national consensus was in the making and a peaceful solution was in sight."25
The 1964 presidential election was at hand to test this consensus. Given the Republican candidate's vehement opposition to the Civil Rights Act, Lyndon Johnson's overwhelming victory was among other things widely interpreted as a national plebiscite for the new law. The President, however, preferred a broader interpretation. Believing that "great social change tends to come rapidly in periods of intense activity before the impulse slows,"26 he considered his victory a mandate for further social reform. On the advice of the Justice Department and the Civil Rights Commission, he called on Congress to eliminate the "barriers to the right to vote."27
In common with its predecessors, the 1964 Civil Rights Act had only touched lightly on the serious obstacles in the way of Slack voters. Although some 450,000 Negroes were added to the voting rolls in the southern states in the year following passage of the 1964 law, the civil rights advocates were calling for stronger legislation. With bipartisan support, the President introduced a measure aimed directly at states that discriminated against black voters, providing for the abolition of literacy tests, appointment of federal examiners to register voters for all elections, and assignment of federal supervisors for those elections. The Twenty-fourth Amendment, adopted in February 1964, had eliminated the poll tax in federal elections, and the President's new measure carried a strong condemnation of the use of the poll tax in state elections as well.
In all of his efforts the President had the unwitting support of the segregationists, who treated the nation to another sordid racial spectacular. In February 1965 Alabama police jailed Martin Luther King, Jr., and some 2,000 members of his voting rights drive, and a generally outraged nation watched King's later clash with the police over a voting rights march. This time he and his followers were stopped at a bridge in Selma, Alabama, by state troopers using tear gas and clubs. The incident climaxed months of violence that saw the murder of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi; the harassment of the Mississippi Summer Project, a voting registration campaign sponsored by several leading civil rights organizations; and ended in the assassination of a white Unitarian minister, James Reeb, of Washington, D.C., one of the hundreds of clergymen, students, and other Americans who had joined in the King demonstrations. Addressing a joint session of Congress on the voting rights bill, the President alluded to the Selma incident, declaring: "Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome. " 28
MEDICAL EXAMINATION. Navy doctor on duty, Yokosuka, Japan. [Photograph not included.]
The President's bill passed easily with bipartisan support, and he signed it on 6 August 1965. Two days later federal examiners were on the job in three states. The act promised a tremendous difference in the political complexion of significant portions of the country. In less than a year federal examiners certified 124,000 new voters in four states and almost half of all eligible Negroes were registered to vote in the states and counties covered by the law. Another result of the new legislation was that the Attorney General played an active role in the 1966 defeat of the state poll tax laws in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections. 29
Useful against legalized discrimination, chiefly in the south, the civil rights laws of the mid-1960's were conspicuously less successful in those areas where discrimination operated outside the law. In the great urban centers of the north and west, home of some 45 percent of the black population, de facto segregation in housing, employment, and education had excluded millions of Negroes from the benefits of economic progress. This ghettoization, this failure to meet human needs, led to the alienation of many young Americans and a bitter resentment against society that was dramatized just five days after the signing of the 1965 voting rights act when the Watts section of Los Angeles exploded in flames and violence. There had been racial unrest before, especially during the two previous summers when flare-ups occurred in Cambridge (Maryland), Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Brooklyn, Cleveland, and elsewhere, but Watts was a different matter. Before the California National Guard with some logistical help from the Army quelled the riots, thirty-four people were killed, some 4,000 arrested, and X35 million worth of property damaged or destroyed. The greatest civil disturbance since the 1943 Detroit riot? Watts was but the first in a series of urban disturbances which refuted the general belief that the race problem had been largely solved in cities of the north and the west.30
Discrimination in housing was a major cause of black urban unrest, and housing was foremost among the areas of discrimination still untouched by federal legislation. The housing provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was severely limited, and Johnson rejected the idea of yet another executive order proposed by his Committee on Equal Opportunity in Housing. Like the order signed by Kennedy, it could cover only new housing and even that with dubious legality. Johnson, relying on the civil rights momentum developed over the previous years, decided instead to press for a comprehensive civil rights bill that would outlaw discrimination in the sale of all housing. The new measure was also designed to attack several other residual areas of discrimination, including jury selection and the physical protection of Negroes and civil rights workers. Although he enjoyed a measure of bipartisan support for these latter sections of the bill, the President failed to overcome the widespread opposition to open housing, and the 1966 civil rights bill died in the Senate, thereby postponing an effective law on open housing until after the assassination of Dr. King in 1968.
The spectacle of demonstrators and riots in northern cities and the appearance in 1966 of the "black power" slogan considered ominous by many citizens were blamed for the bill's failure. Another and more likely cause was that in violating the sanctity of the all-white neighborhood Johnson had gone beyond any national consensus on civil rights. In August 1966, for example, a survey by the Louis Harris organization revealed that some 46 percent of white America would object to having a black family as next-door neighbors and 70 percent believed that Negroes "were trying to move too fast." Of particular importance to the Department of Defense, which would be taking some equal opportunity steps in the housing field in the next months, was the fact that this opposition was not translated into a general rejection of the concept of equal opportunity. In fact, although the bill failed to win enough votes to apply the Senate's cloture rule, the President could boast that he won a clear majority in both houses. His defeat slowed the pace of the civil rights movement and postponed a solution to a major domestic problem, postponed, because, as Roy Wilkins reminded his fellow citizens at the time, "the problem is not going away . . . the Negro is not going away.''31
The enactment of new civil rights legislation in 1964 had thrust the armed forces into the heart of the civil rights movement in a special way. As Secretary McNamara himself reminded his subordinates, President Johnson was determined to have each federal department develop programs and policies that would give meaning to the new legislation. That legislation, he added, created "new opportunities" to win full equality for all servicemen. The secretary made the usual connection between discrimination and military efficiency, adding that "this reason alone" compelled departmental action.32 Obviously other reasons existed, and when McNamara called on all commanders to support their men in the "lawful assertion of the rights guaranteed" by the act he was making his more than 300 local commanders agents of the new federal legislation.
Defense officials quickly arranged for the publication of directives and regulations applying the provisions of the new law to the whole defense establishment. To insure, as McNamara put it, that military commanders understood their responsibility for seeing that those in uniform were accorded fair treatment as prescribed by the new law, Assistant Secretary Paul had already ordered the services to advise the rank and file of their rights and instruct commanders to seek civilian cooperation for the orderly application of the act to servicemen.33 After considering the service comments solicited by his civil rights deputy,34 Paul issued a departmental instruction on 24 July that, prescribed specific policies and procedures for processing the requests of uniformed men and women for legal action under Titles II (Public Accommodations), III (Public Facilities), and IV (Public Education) of the act. The instruction encouraged, but did not compel, the use of command assistance by servicemen who wished to request suit by the U.S. Attorney General.35
Finally in December, McNamara issued a directive spelling out his department's obligations under the act's controversial Title VI, Non-discrimination in Federally Assisted Programs.36 This directive was one of a series requested by the White House from various governmental agencies and reviewed by the Justice Department and the Bureau of the Budget in an attempt to coordinate the federal government's activities under the far-reaching Title VI provision.37 After arranging for the circulation of the directive throughout the services, Secretary McNamara explained in considerable detail how grants and loans of federal funds, transfer, sale, or lease of military property, and in fact any federal assistance would be denied in cases where discrimination could be found. Although this directive would affect the Department of Defense chiefly through the National Guard and various civil defense programs, it was nevertheless a potential source of economic leverage for use by the armed forces in the fight against discrimination.38 Furthermore, this directive, unlike McNamara's equal opportunity directive of the previous year, was supported by federal legislation and thus escaped the usual criticism suffered by his earlier directives on discrimination.
The Department of Defense's voluntary compliance program in off-base discrimination cases had its greatest success in the months following the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Given the passage of the act and other federal legislation, pronouncements of the federal courts, and the broad advance of racial tolerance throughout the nation, the Defense Department's civil rights officials came to expect that most discrimination could be dealt with in a routine manner. As Robert E. Jordan III, a staff assistant to the department's civil rights deputy, put it, the use of sanctions would not "normally" be invoked when the Civil Rights Act or other laws could provide a judicial remedy.39 Fitt predicted that only a "very tiny number" of requests by servicemen for suits under the act would ever be processed all the way through to the courts. He expected to see many voluntary settlements achieved by commanders spurred to action by the filing of requests for suit.40
By early 1965 local commanders had made "very good progress," according to one Defense Department survey, in securing voluntary compliance with Title II of the act for public accommodations frequented by servicemen. Each service had reported "really surprising examples of progress" in obtaining integrated off-base housing in neighborhoods adjoining military installations and heavily populated by service families. The services also reported good progress in obtaining integrated off-duty education for servicemen, as distinct from their dependents in the public schools.41 At the same time lesser but noticeable progress was reported in Titles II and III cases. In the first off-base inventory some 145 installations in twenty states had reported widespread discrimination in nearby restaurants, hotels, bars, bowling alleys, and other Title II businesses; forty installations in nine states reported similar discrimination in libraries, city parks, and stadiums (Title III categories). Each succeeding inventory reported impressive reductions in these figures.
Defense Department officials observed that the amount of progress depended considerably on the size of the base, its proximity to the local community, and the relationship between the commander and local leaders. Progress was most notable at large bases near towns. The influence of the Civil Rights Act on cases involving servicemen was also readily apparent. But above all, these officials pointed to the personal efforts of the local commander as the vital factor. Many commanders were able to use the off-base inventory itself as a weapon to fight discrimination, especially when the philosophy of "if everybody else desegregates I will" was so prevalent. Nor could the effect of commanders' achievements be measured merely in terms of hotels and restaurants open to black servicemen. The knowledge that his commander was fighting for his rights in the community gave a tremendous boost to the black serviceman's morale. It followed that when a commander successfully forced a change in the practices of a business establishment, even one only rarely frequented by servicemen, he stirred a new pride and self-respect in his men.42
If the Civil Rights Act strengthened the hands of the commander, it also quickly revealed the ultimate limits of voluntary compliance itself. The campaign against Titles II and III discrimination was only one facet of the Department of Defense's battle against off-base discrimination, which also included major attacks against discrimination in the National Guard, in the public schools, and, finally, in housing. It was in these areas that the limits of voluntary compliance were reached, and the technique was abandoned in favor of economic sanctions.
Because of its intimate connection with the Department of Defense, the National Guard appeared to be an easy target in the attack against off-base discrimination. Although Secretary McNamara had accepted his department's traditional voluntary approach toward ending discrimination in this major reserve component, 43 the possibility of using sanctions against the guard had been under discussion for some time. As early as 1949 the legal counsel of the National Guard Bureau had concluded that the federal government had the right to compel integration.44 Essentially the same stand was taken in 1961 by the Defense Department's Assistant General Counsel for Manpower.45
These opinions, along with the 1947 staff study on the guard and the 1948 New Jersey case,46 provided support extending over more than a decade for the argument that the federal government could establish racial policies for the National Guard. Indeed, there is no evidence of opposition to this position in the 1940's, and southern guard leaders openly accepted federal supremacy during the period when the Army and Air Force were segregated. But in the 1960's, long after the services had integrated their active forces and seemed to be moving toward a similar policy for the guard, doubts about federal authority over a peacetime guard appeared. The National Guard Bureau disputed the 1949 opinion of its legal counsel and the more recent one from the Defense Department and stressed the political implications of forcing integration; a bureau spokesman asserted that "an ultimatum to a governor that he must commit political suicide in order to obtain federal support for his National Guard will be rejected." Moreover, if federal officials insisted on integration, the bureau foresaw a deterioration of guard units to the detriment of national security.47
AUTO PILOT SHOP. Airmen check out equipment, Biggs Air Force Base, Texas. (photograph not included.]
The National Guard Bureau supported voluntary integration, and its chiefs tried in 1962 and 1963 to prod state adjutants general into taking action on their own account. Citing the success some states, notably Texas, enjoyed in continuing the integration their units first experienced during federalized service in the Berlin call-up, Maj. Gen. D. W. McGowan warned other state organizations that outright defiance of federal authorities could not be maintained indefinitely and would eventually lead to integration enforced by Washington.48
Replies from the state adjutants varied, but in some cases it became
clear that the combination of persuasion and quiet pressure might bring change.
The Louisiana adjutant general, for example, reported that considering the feelings
in his state's legislature any move toward integration would require "a selling
job." At the same time, he carefully admitted, "some of these days, the thing
[integration] is probably inevitable."49 The administration,
however, continued to take the view that integration of the National Guard was
a special problem because the leverage available to implement it was in no way
comparable to the federal government's control over the active forces or the
Progress toward total integration continued through 1963 and 1964, although slowly.50 Near the end of 1964, the National Guard Bureau announced that every state National Guard was integrated, though only in token numbers in some cases.51 Even this slight victory could not be claimed by the Department of Defense or its National Guard Bureau, but was the result of the pressure exerted on states by the Gesell Committee.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 altered the Defense Department's attitude toward the National Guard. Title VI of the act undercut all arguments against federal supremacy over the guard, for it no longer mattered who had technical responsibility for units in peacetime. In practical terms, the power to integrate clearly rested now with the federal government, which in a complete reversal of its earlier policy showed a disposition to use it. On 15 February 1965 Deputy Secretary of Defense Vance ordered the Army and Air Force to amend National Guard regulations to eliminate any trace of racial discrimination and "to ensure that the policy of equal opportunity and treatment is clearly stated."52 Vance's order produced a speedy change in the states, so much so that later in 1965 the Department of Defense was finally able to oppose New York Congressman Abraham J. Multer's biannual bill to withhold federal aid from segregated guard units on the grounds that there were no longer any such units.53
Lack of equal opportunity in the National Guard might have been resented
by civil rights groups, but black servicemen themselves suffered more generally
and more deeply from discrimination visited on their children, Alfred Fitt
summarized these feelings in 1964:
The imposition of unconstitutionally segregated schooling on their children is particularly galling for the Negro servicemen. As comparative transients—and as military men accustomed to avoiding controversy with civilian authorities—they cannot effectively sue for the constitutional rights of their sons and daughters. Yet they see their children, fresh from the integrated environment which is the rule on military installations, condemned to schools which are frequently two, even three grades behind the integrated schools these same children had attended on-base or at their fathers' previous duty stations. 54
There was much to be said for the Defense Department's theory that an appeal for voluntary compliance would produce much integration in off-base schools attended by military dependents. That these children were the offspring of men serving in defense of their country was likely to have considerable impact in the south, especially, with its strong military traditions. That the children had in most cases already attended integrated schools, competing and learning with children of another race, was likely to make their integration more acceptable to educators.
Beyond these special reasons, the services could expect help from new legislation and new administration rulings. The Civil Rights Act of 1960, for example, had authorized the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to provide integrated education for military dependents in areas where public schools were discontinued. In March 1962 Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Abraham Ribicoff announced that racially segregated schools were no longer "suitable" institutions under the terms of Public Laws 815 and 879 and that beginning in September 1963 his department would "exercise sound discretion, take appropriate steps" to provide integrated education for military dependents. If the children were withdrawn from local school systems to achieve this, he warned, so too the federal aid.55 Lending credence to Ribicoff's warning, his department undertook a survey in the fall of 1962 of selected military installations to determine the educational status of military dependents.56 On 17 September 1962 Attorney General Kennedy filed suit in Richmond to bar the use of federal funds in the segregated schools of Prince George County, Virginia, the location of Fort Lee.57 Finally, in January 1963, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare announced that unless state officials relented it would start a crash program of construction and operation of integrated schools for military dependents in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina. 58
Some local commanders took immediate advantage of these emotional appeals and administration pressures. The commandant of the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, for example, won an agreement from Stafford County, Virginia, authorities that the county would open its high school and two elementary schools to Marine Corps dependents without regard to race. The commandant also announced that schools in Albany, Georgia, had agreed to take military dependents on an integrated basis.59 The Air Force announced that schools near Eglin, Whiting, and MacDill Air Force Bases in Florida as well as those near six bases in Texas, including Sheppard and Connally, would integrate. The Under Secretary of the Navy reported similar successes in school districts in Florida, Tennessee, and Texas. And the commander of Fort Belvoir started discussions with the Fairfax County, Virginia, school board looking toward the speedy desegregation of schools near the fort.
Lest any commander hesitate, the Department of Defense issued a new policy in regard to the education of military dependents. On 15 July 1963 Assistant Secretary Paul directed all local commanders in areas where public education was still segregated—large parts of some fifteen states—to counsel parents on the procedures available for the transfer of their children to integrated schools, on how to appeal assignment to segregated schools, and on legal action as an alternative to accepting local school board decisions to bar their children.60 In December 1963 Fitt drew up contingency plans for the education of dependent children in the event of local school closings.61 In April of 1964 Fitt reminded the services that Defense Department policy called for the placement of military dependents in integrated schools and that commanders were expected to make "appropriate efforts" on behalf of the children to eliminate any deviation from that policy.62 In effect, base commanders were being given a specific role in the fight to secure for black and white dependents equal access to public schools.
The action taken by base commanders under this responsibility might alter patterns of segregated education in some areas, but in the long run any attempt to integrate schools through a program of voluntary compliance appeared futile. At the end of the 1964 school year more than 76,300 military dependents, including 6,177 black children, at forty-nine installations attended segregated schools. Another 14,390 children on these same bases attended integrated schools, usually grade school, on the military base itself.63 Because of the restrictions against base closings and off-limits sanctions, there was little hope that base commanders could produce any substantial improvement in this record. Fitt admitted that the Department of Defense could not compel the integration of a school district. He recognized that it was impossible to establish an accredited twelve-grade system at the forty-nine installations, yet at the same time he considered it "incompatible with military requirements" to assign black servicemen with children to areas where only integrated schools were available. Even the threat to deny impacted-area aid was limited because in many communities the services' contracts with local school districts to educate dependent children was contingent on continuous federal aid. If the aid was stopped the schools would be closed, leaving service children with no schools to attend.64
The only practical recourse for parents of military dependents, Fitt believed, was to follow the slow process of judicial redress under Title IV of the civil rights bill then moving through Congress. Anticipating the new law, Fitt asked the services to provide him with pertinent data on all school districts where military dependents attended segregated schools. He planned to use this information in cooperation with the Departments of Justice and Health, Education, and Welfare for use in federal suits. He also requested reports on the efforts made by local commanders to integrate schools used by dependent children and the responses of local school officials to such efforts.65 Later, after the new law had been signed by the President, Norman Paul outlined for the services the procedures to be used for lodging complaints under Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act and directed that local commanders inform all parents under their command of the remedies afforded them under the new legislation.66
With no prospect in sight for speedy integration of schools attended by military dependents, the Department of Defense summarily ended the attendance of uniformed personnel at all segregated educational institutions. With the close of the 1964 spring semester, Paul announced, no Defense Department funds would be spent to pay tuition for such schooling.67 The economic pressure implicit in this ruling, which for some time had been applied to the education of civilian employees of the department, allowed many base commanders to negotiate an end to segregation in off-base schools.68
The effort of the Department of Defense to secure education for its military dependents in integrated schools was, on the whole, unsuccessful. Integration when it finally came to most of these institutions later in the 1960's, came principally through the efforts of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Yet the role of local military commanders in the effort to secure integrated schools cannot be ignored, for with the development of a new policy toward off-base facilities in 1963 the commander became a permanent and significant partner in the administration's fight to desegregate the nation's schools. In contrast to earlier times when the Department of Defense depended on moral persuasion to desegregate schools used by servicemen's children, its commanders now educated parents on their legal rights, collected data to support class action suits, and negotiated with school boards. If the primary impetus for this activity was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the philosophy of the Gesell Committee and the Secretary of Defense's directive were also implicit.
Discrimination in the sale and lease of housing continued to be the most widespread and persistent form of racial injustice encountered by black servicemen, and a most difficult one to fight. The chronic shortage of on-base accommodations, the transient nature of a military assignment, and the general reluctance of men in uniform to protest publicly left the average serviceman at the mercy of local landlords and real estate interests. Nor did he have recourse in law. No significant federal legislation on the subject existed before 1969, and state laws (by 1967 over half the states had some form of prohibition against discrimination in public housing and twenty-one states had open housing laws) were rather limited, excluding owner-occupied dwellings, for example, from their provisions. Even President Kennedy's 1962 housing order was restricted to future building and to housing dependent on federal financing.
Both the Civil Rights Commission and the Gesell Committee studied the problem in some detail and concluded that the President's directive to all federal agencies to use their "good offices" to push for open housing in federally supported housing had not been followed in the Department of Defense. The Civil Rights Commission, in particular, painted a picture of a Defense Department alternating between naiveté and indifference in connection with the special housing problems of black servicemen.69 White House staffer Wofford later decided that the Secretary of Defense was dragging his feet on the subject of off-base housing, although Wofford admitted that each federal agency was a forceful advocate of action by other agencies.70
SUBMARINE TENDER DUTY. A senior chief boatswain mate and master diver at his station on the USS Hunley. [Photograph not included.]
The Assistant Secretary for Manpower conceded in November 1963 that little had been done, but, citing the widely misunderstood off-base inventory, he pleaded the need to avoid retaliation by segregationist forces in Congress both on future authorizations for housing and on the current civil rights legislation. He recommended that the Department of Defense complete and disseminate to local commanders information packets containing relevant directives, statistics, and legal procedures available in the local housing field.71
McNamara approved this procedure, again investing local commanders with responsibility for combating a pervasive form of discrimination with a voluntary compliance program. Specifically, local commanders were directed to promote open housing near their bases, expanding their open housing lists and pressing the problem of local housing discrimination on their biracial community committees for solution. They were helped by the secretary's assistants. His civil rights and housing deputies became active participants in the President's housing committee, transmitting to local military commanders the information and techniques developed in the executive body. McNamara's civil rights staff inaugurated cooperative programs with state and municipal equal opportunity commissions and other local open housing bodies, making these community resources available to local commanders. Finally, in February 1965, the Department of Defense entered into a formal arrangement with the Federal Housing Administration to provide commanders with lists of all housing in their area covered by the President's housing order and to arrange for the lease of foreclosed Federal Housing Authority properties to military personnel.72
These activities had little effect on the military housing situation. An occasional apartment complex or trailer court got integrated, but no substantial progress could be reported in the four years following Secretary McNamara's 1963 equal opportunity directive. On the contrary, the record suggests that many commanders, discouraged perhaps by the overwhelming difficulties encountered in the fair housing field, might agree with Fitt: "I have no doubt that I did nothing about it [housing discrimination] in 1963-4 because I was working on forms of discrimination at once more blatant and easier to overcome. I did not fully understand the impact of housing discrimination, and I did not know what to do about it. "73
A special Defense Department housing survey of thirteen representative communities, including a study of service families in the Washington, D.C., area, documented this failure. The survey described a housing situation as of early 1967 in which progress toward open off-base housing for servicemen was minimal. Despite the active off-base programs sponsored by local commanders, discrimination in housing remained widespread,74 and based on four years' experience the Department of Defense had to conclude that appeals to the community for voluntary compliance would not produce integrated housing for military families on a large scale. Still, defense officials were reluctant to substitute more drastic measures. Deputy Secretary Vance, for one, argued in early 1967 that nationwide application of off-limits sanctions would raise significant legal issues, create chaotic conditions in the residential status of all military personnel, downgrade rather than enhance the responsibility of local commanders to achieve their equal opportunity goals, and, above all, fail to produce more integrated housing. Writing to the chairman of the Action Coordinating Committee to End Segregation in the Suburbs (ACCESS),75 he asserted that open housing for servicemen would be achieved only through the "full commitment at every level of command to the proposition of equal treatment." 76
But even as Vance wrote, the department's housing policy was undergoing substantial revision. And, ironically, it was the very group to which Vance was writing that precipitated the change. It was the members of ACCESS who climaxed their campaign against segregated apartment complexes in the Washington suburbs with a sit-down demonstration in McNamara's reception room in the Pentagon on 1 February, bringing the problem to the personal attention of a Secretary of Defense burdened with Vietnam.77 Although strongly committed to the principle of equal opportunity and always ready to support the initiatives of his civil rights assistants,78 McNamara had largely ignored the housing problem. Later he castigated himself for allowing the problem to drift for four years.
I get charged with the TFX. It's nothing compared to the Bay of Pigs or my failure for four years to integrate off-base military housing. I don't want you to misunderstand me when I say this, but the TFX was only money. We're talking about blood, the moral foundation of our future, the life of the nation when we talk about these things. 79
McNamara was being unnecessarily harsh with himself. There were several reasons, quite unrelated to either the Secretary of Defense or his assistants, that explain the failure of voluntarism to integrate housing used by servicemen. A major cause—witness the failure of President Johnson's proposed civil rights bill in 1966—was that open housing lacked a national consensus or widespread public support. Voluntary compliance was successful in other areas, such as public accommodation, transportation, and to some extent even in dependent schooling, precisely because the requests of local commanders were supported by a growing national consensus and the force of national legislation. In dealing with housing discrimination, however, these same commanders faced public indifference or open hostility without the comforting support of federal law. Even with the commander's wholehearted commitment to open housing, a commitment that equal opportunity directives from the services could by no means insure, his effectiveness against such widespread discrimination was questionable. Nothing in his training prepared him for the delicate negotiations involved in obtaining integrated housing. Moreover, it was extremely difficult if not impossible to isolate the black serviceman's housing plight from that of other black citizens; thus, an open housing campaign really demanded comprehensive action by the whole federal government. The White House had never launched a national open housing campaign; it was not, indeed, until 16 February 1967 that President Johnson submitted a compulsory national open housing bill to Congress.80
Whatever the factors contributing to the lack of progress, McNamara
admitted that "the voluntary program had failed and failed miserably.''8l
Philosophically, Robert McNamara found this situation intolerable. He had
become interested in the "unused potential" of his department to change
American society as it affected the welfare of servicemen. As Fitt explained,
the secretary believed
any department which administers 10% of the gross national product, with influence over the lives of 10 million people, is bound to have an impact. The question is whether it's going to be a dumb, blind impact, or a marshaled and ordered impact.
McNamara wanted to marshal that impact by committing defense resources to social goals that were still compatible with the primary mission of security.82
Clearly, the Secretary of Defense considered open housing for service families one of these goals, and when his attention was drawn to the immediacy of the problem by the ACCESS demonstration he acted quickly. At his instigation Vance ordered the local commanders of all services to conduct a nationwide census of all apartment houses, housing developments, and mobile home courts consisting of five or more rental units within normal commuting distance of all installations having at least 500 servicemen. He also ordered the commanders to talk to the owners or operators of these properties personally and to urge them to open their properties to all servicemen. He organized an Off-base Equal Opportunity Board, consisting of the open housing coordinators of each service and his office to monitor the census. Finally, he announced the establishment of a special action program under the direction of Thomas D. Morris, now the Assistant Secretary for Manpower. Aimed at the Washington, D.C., area specifically, the program was designed to serve as a model for the rest of the country.83
Vance also notified the service secretaries that subsequent to the census all local commanders would be asked to discuss the census findings with local community leaders in an effort to mobilize support for open housing. Later Assistant Secretary Morris, with the help of the acting civil rights deputy, L. Howard Bennett, spelled out a program for "aggressive" negotiation with community leaders and cooperation with other government agencies, in effect a last-ditch attempt to achieve open housing for servicemen through voluntary compliance. Underscoring the urgency of the housing campaign, the department demanded a monthly report from all commanders on their open housing activities,84 and Morris promptly launched a proselytizing effort of his own in the metropolitan Washington area. Described simply by McNamara as "a decent man," Morris spoke indefatigably before civil leaders and realtors on behalf of open housing.85
The department's national housing census confirmed the gloomy statistics projected from earlier studies indicating that housing discrimination was widespread and intractable and damaging to servicemen's morale.86 McNamara decided that local commanders "were not going to involve themselves." and for the first time since sanctions were mentioned in his equal opportunity directive some four years before, he decided to use them in a discrimination case. The Secretary of Defense himself, not the local commander nor the service secretaries, made the decision: housing not opened to all servicemen would be closed to all servicemen.87 Aware of the controversy accompanying such action, the secretary's legal counsel prepared a justification. Predictably, the department's lawyer argued that sanctions against discrimination in off-base housing were an extension of the commander's traditional right to forbid commerce with establishments whose policies adversely affected the health or morals of his men. Acutely conscious of the lack of federal legislation barring housing discrimination, Vance and his legal associates were careful to distinguish between an owner's legal right to choose his tenants and the commander's power to impose a military order on his men.
Although committed to a nationwide imposition of sanctions on housing if necessary, the Secretary of Defense hoped that the example of a few cases would be sufficient to break the intransigence of offending landlords; certainly a successful test case would strengthen the hand of the commanders in their negotiations with community leaders. Metropolitan Washington was the obvious area for the first test case, and the Maryland General Assembly further focused attention on that region when on 28 February 1967 it called on the Secretary of Defense to end housing discrimination for all military personnel in the state.88 On the night of 21 June, Gerhard Gesell received an unexpected phone call: there would be something in tomorrow's paper, Robert McNamara told him that should be especially interesting to the judge.89 And there was, indeed, on the front page. As of 1 July, all military personnel would be forbidden to lease or rent housing in any segregated apartment building or trailer court within a three-and-a-half-mile radius of Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. Citing the special housing problems of servicemen returning from Vietnam, McNamara pointed out that in the Andrews area of Maryland less than 3 percent of some 22,000 local apartment units were open to black servicemen. The Andrews situation, he declared, was causing problems "detrimental to the morale and welfare of the majority of our Negro military families and thus to the operational effectiveness of the base."90
The secretary's rhetoric, skillfully justifying sanctions in terms of military efficiency and elementary fairness for returning combat veterans, might have explained the singular lack of adverse congressional reaction to the order. No less a personage than Chairman L. Mendel Rivers of the House Armed Services Committee admitted that he had no objection to the sanctions near Andrews. Asked about possible sanctions elsewhere, Rivers added that he would cross that bridge later.91
Rivers and his congressional allies would have little time for reflection, because McNamara quickly made it clear that the Andrews action was only a first step. Sanctions were imposed in rapid succession on areas surrounding four other military installations in Maryland, Fort George G. Meade, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Edgewood Arsenal, and Fort Holabird.92 More pressure was placed on segregationists when McNamara announced on 8 September his intention to extend the sanctions nationwide. He singled out California, where the Defense Department census had shown black servicemen barred from a third of all rental units, for special attention. In fact, off-limits sanctions imposed on broad geographical areas were used only once more—in December 1967 against multiple rental properties in the northern Virginia area.93 In the meantime, the Department of Defense had developed a less dramatic but equally effective method of exerting economic pressure on landlords. On 17 July 1967 McNamara ordered the establishment of housing referral offices at all installations where more than S00 men were assigned. All married servicemen seeking off-base housing were required to obtain prior clearance from these offices before entering into rental agreements with landlords.94
Finally, in the wake of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and the Supreme Court's ruling against housing discrimination in Jones v. Mayer, McNamara's successor, Clark M. Clifford, was able to combine economic threats with new legal sanctions against landlords who continued to discriminate. On 20 June 1968 Clifford ordered the services to provide advice and legal assistance to servicemen who encountered discrimination in housing. The services were also to coordinate their housing programs with the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Justice, provide assistance in locating nondiscriminatory rental units, and withhold authorization for servicemen to sign leases where discriminatory practices were evident. In a separate action the manpower assistant secretary also ordered that housing referral offices be established on all bases to which 100—as opposed to the earlier 500—military personnel were assigned.95
FIRST AID. Soldier of the 23d Infantry gives water to heat stroke victim during "Operation Wahiawa," Vietnam. [Photograph not included]
The result of these directives was spectacular. By June 1968 the ratio of offbase housing units carried on military referral listings—that is, apartment and trailer court units with open housing policies assured in writing by the owner or certified by the local commander—rose to some 83 percent of all available offbase housing for a gain of 247,000 units over the 1967 inventory.96 In the suburban Washington area alone, the number of housing units opened to all servicemen rose more than 300 percent in 120 days—from 15,000 to more than 50,000 units.97 By the end of 1968 some 1.17 million rental units, 93 percent of all those identified in the 1967 survey, were open to all servicemen.98 Still, these impressive gains did not signal the end of housing discrimination for black servicemen. The various Defense Department sanctions excluded dwellings for four families or less, and the evidence suggests that the original and hastily compiled off-base census on which all the open housing gains were measured had ignored some particularly intransigent landlords in larger apartment houses and operators of trailer courts on the grounds that their continued refusal to negotiate with commanders had made the likelihood of integrating their properties extremely remote.
The campaign for open housing is the most noteworthy chapter in the fight for equality of treatment and opportunity for servicemen. The efforts of the Department of Defense against other forms of off-base discrimination were to a great extent successful because they coincided with court rulings and powerful civil rights legislation. The campaign for open housing, on the other hand, was launched in advance of court and congressional action and in the face of much popular feeling against integrated housing. McNamara's fight for open housing demonstrates, as nothing had before, his determination to use, if necessary, the department's economic powers in the civilian community to secure equal treatment and opportunity for servicemen. In the name of fair housing, McNamara invested not only his own prestige but also the Defense Department's manpower and financial resources. In effect, this willingness to use the extreme weapon of off-limits sanctions revitalized the idea of using the Department of Defense as an instrument of social change in American society.
McNamara's willingness to push the department beyond the national consensus on civil rights (as represented by the contemporary civil rights laws) also signified a change in his attitude. Unlike Yarmolinsky and Robert Kennedy, McNamara limited his attention to discrimination's effect on the individual serviceman and, ultimately, on the military efficiency of the armed forces. Despite his interest in the cause of civil rights, he had, until the open housing campaign, always circumscribed the department's equal opportunity program to fit a more traditional definition of military mission. Seen in this light, McNamara's attack against segregated housing represented not only the substitution of a new and more powerful technique—sanctions—for one that had been found wanting—voluntary compliance, but also a substantial evolution in his own social philosophy. He later implied as much.
We request cooperation and seek voluntary compliance [in obtaining open housing].... I am fully aware that the Defense Department is not a philanthropic foundation or a social-welfare institution. But the Department does not intend to let our Negro servicemen and their families continue to suffer the injustices and indignities they have in the past. I am certain my successors will pursue the same policy.99
By 1967 the major programs derived from Secretary McNamara's equal opportunity policy had been defined, and the Department of Defense could look back with pride on the substantial and permanent changes it had achieved in the treatment of black servicemen in communities near military bases.100 Emphasizing voluntary compliance with its policy, the department had proved to be quite successful in its campaign against discrimination in off-base recreation, public transportation and accommodation, in the organized reserves, and even, to a limited extent, in off-base schools. It was logical that the services should seek voluntary compliance before resorting to more drastic methods. As the Gesell Committee had pointed out, base commanders had vast influence in their local communities, influence that might be used in countless ways to alter the patterns of off-base discrimination. For the first time the armed forces had fought discrimination by making the local commander responsible for a systematic program of negotiations in the community.
But voluntary compliance had its limits. Its success depended in large measure on the ability and will of local commanders, who, for the most part were unprepared by training or temperament to deal with the complex and explosive problems of off-base discrimination. Even if the commander could qualify as a civil rights reformer, he had little time or incentive for a duty that would go unrecognized in terms of his efficiency rating yet must compete for his attention with other necessary duties that were so recognized. Finally, the successful use of voluntary compliance techniques depended on the implied threat of legal or economic pressures, yet, for a considerable period following McNamara's 1963 directive, no legal strictures against some forms of discrimination existed, and the use of economic sanctions had been so carefully circumscribed by defense officials as to render the possibility of their use extremely remote.
The decision to circumscribe the use of economic sanctions against off-base discrimination made sense. Closing a base because of discrimination in nearby communities was practically if not politically impossible and might conceivably become a threat to national security. As to sanctions aimed at specific businesses, the secretary's civil rights assistants feared the possibility that the abrupt or authoritarian imposition of sanctions by an insensitive or unsympathetic commander might sabotage the department's whole equal opportunity program in the community. They were determined to leave the responsibility for sanctions in the hands of senior civilian officials. In the end it was the most senior of these officials who acted. When his attention turned to the problem of discrimination in off-base housing for black servicemen in 1967, Secretary McNamara quickly decided to use sanctions against a discriminatory practice widely accepted and still legal under federal law.
The combination of voluntary compliance techniques and economic sanctions, in tandem with the historic civil rights legislation of the mid-1960's, succeeded in eliminating most of the off-base discrimination faced by black servicemen. Ironically, in view of its unquestioned control in the area, the Department of Defense failed to achieve an equal success against discrimination within the military establishment itself. Complaints concerning the number, promotion, assignment, and punishment of black servicemen, a limited problem in the mid-1960's, went mostly unrecognized. Relatively speaking, they were ignored by the Gesell Committee and the civil rights organizations in the face of the more pressing off-base problems and only summarily treated by the services, which remained largely silent about on-base and in-house discrimination. Long after off-base discrimination had disappeared as a specific military problem, this neglected on-base discrimination would rise up again to trouble the armed forces in more militant times.101
1Interv, author with McNamara, 11 May 72.
2See Memo, DASD (CR) for ASD (M) 2 Jul 64; Fitt, "Remarks Before the Civilian Aides Conference of the Secretary Of the Army," 6 Mar 64; copies of both in CMH. The quoted passage is from the latter document.
3Robert S. McNamara, Testimony Before Senate Armed Services Committee, 3 Oct 63, quoted in New York Times, October 4, 1963.
4Memo, William C. Valdes, OASD (M), for Alfred A. Fitt, 8 Jul 63, sub: Case Studies of Minority Group Problems at Keesler AFB, Brookley AFB, Greenville AFB, and Columbus AFB Copy in CMH
5See Shulman, ``The Civil Rights Policies of the Department of Defense, 4 May 65.
6Memos: DASD (CR) for White, Assoc Spec Council to President, 9 Jul 64; Philip M. Timpane, Staff Asst, ODASD (CP, IR, & CR), for DASD (CP, IR, & CR), 11 Feb 65, sub: Service Reports on Equal Rights Activities; DASD (CP, IR, & CR) for John G. Stewart, 23 Dec 64, sub: Civil Rights Responsibilities of the Department of Defense. Copies of all in CMH. For a discussion of the composition and activities of the command-communiity relations committees and a critical analysis of the command initiatives in the local community in general, see David Sutton, "The Military Mission Against Off-Base Discrimination," Public Opinion and the Military Establishment, ed. Charles C. Moskos, Jr. (Beverly Hills, California: Sage Publications, 1971), pp. 149-83.
7See "specially UPI Press Release, October 4, 1963; New York Times, October 3, 1963; Memo, Robert E. Jordan III, Staff Asst, ODASD (CR), for ASD (M), 2 Oct 63, sub: Status of Defense Department Implementation of DOD Directive 5120.36 ("Equal Opportunity in the Armed Forces," July 26, 1963), ASD (M) 291.2 (14 Jul 63).
8Memo, ASD (M) for Under SA et al., 24 Sep 63, sub: Off-Base Equal Opportunity Inventory, ASD (M) 291.2 (14 Jul 63); DASD (CR) "Summary of Off-Base Equal Opportunity Inventory Responses" (ca. Jan 64), copy inclosed with Ltr, DASD (CR) to Gesell, 2 Apt 64, Gesell Collection, J. F. Kennedy Library. For examples of service responses, see BuPers Instruction 5350.3, 3 Oct 63, and Marine Corps Order 5350.2, 1 Oct 63. For details of a service's experiences with conducting an off-base inventory, see the many documents in CS 291.2 (23 Aug 63).
9See, for example, the following Memos: USAF Dep for Manpower, Personnel, and Organization for ASD (M), 6 Feb 64, sub: Off-Base Equal Opportunity Inventory Report, SecAF film; DASD (CR) for Fridge, USAF Manpower Office, 14 May 64; idem for Davenport et al., 3 Aug 64, sub: Off-Base Equal Opportunity Inventory Follow-Up Reports. All in ASD (M) 291.2.
10OASD (CR), Summary of Follow-Up Off-Base Equal Opportunity Inventory (ca. Jun 64), DASD (CR) filet..
11Memo, DASD (CP, IR, & CR) for Stewart, 23 Dec 64, sub: Civil Rights Responsibilities of the Department of Defense, copy in CMH.
12Ltr, Fitt to author, 22 May 72.
13Ltr, DASD (CR) to congressman Charles Diggs, 3 Feb 64, copy in CMH.
14Memo, DASD (CR) for ASD (M), 24 Apr 64, sub Base Closings; Memo, ASD (M) for ASD (I&L), 29 Apt 64, sub Base Closing Decisions; both in ASD (M) 291.2.
15Memo, ASD (I&L) for ASD (M), 23 May 64, sub Base Closing Decisions, Copy in CMH.
16Ltr, Principal Just for CR, DASD (CP, IR, & CR) to Stanley T. Gutman, 18 Dec 64, ASD (M) 291.2.
17Ltr, DASD (CR) to Gesell, 28 Jul 64, copy in CMH.
18Benjamin Muse, The American Negro Revolution: From Nonviolence to Black Power, 1963-1967 (Bloomington university of Indiana Press, 1968). The following survey is based on Muse and on Robert D. Marcus and David Burner, eds., America Since 1945 New York St. Martin's, 1972), especially the chapter by James Sundquist, ``Building the Great Society: The Case of Equal Rights, From Politics and Policy," and that by Daniel Walker, "Violence in Chicago, 1968: The Walker Report"; Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders; Otis L Graham, Jr., ea., Perspectives on 20th Century America, Readings and Commentary (New York Dodd, Mead, 1973); zing, Postwar America, 1945-1971; Roger Beaumont, lithe Embryonic Revolution Perspectives on the 1967 Riots,'' in Robin Higham, ea., Bayonets in the Street: The Use of Troops in Civil Disturbances (Lawrence university Press Of Kansas, 1969); Woodward's Strange Career of Jim Crow.
19Lyndon B. Johnson, "Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress," 27 Nov 63, Public Papers of she Presidents: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1965), 1:9.
20Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point (New York: Halt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971), p. 157.
21Interv, Bernhard with Wofford, 29 Nov 65. Special Assistant to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, Wofford was later appointed to a senior position in the Peace Corps.
22Johnson, Vantage Point, p. 160.
23PL 88-352, 78 U.S. Seat. 241.
24Muse, The American Negro Revolution, p. 183. For a detailed discussion of the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, see Muse's book, pp. 181-91.
25Woodward, Strange Career of Jim Crow, p. 180.
26Johnson, "Remarks at the National Urban League's Community Action Assembly," 10 Dec 64, as reproduced in Public Papers of the Presidents: Johnson, 1963-1964,11:1653.
27Lyndon B. Johnson, "Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union," 4 Jan 65, Public Papers of the Presidents: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1966),1:6.
28Lyndon B. Johnson, "Speech Before Joint Session of Congress," IS Mar 65, Public Papers of the Presidents: Johnson, 1965,1:284
29383 U.S. 663 (1966).
30For an account of the Watts riot and its aftermath, see Robert Conot, Rivers of Blood, Years of Darkness (New York: Bantam Books, 1967), and Anthony Platt, ea., The Politics of Riot Commissions (New York: Collin Books, 1971), ch. vi.
31Both the Harris and Wilkins
remarks are quoted in Sundquist, "Building the Great Society," pp. 205
32Memo, SecDef for SA et al., 10 Jul 64, copy in CMH; see also SecDef News Conference, 15 Jul 64, p. 13, OASD (PA).
33Memo, ASD (M) for Under SA et al., 6 Jul 64, ASD (M) 291.2; see also SecDef News Conference, 15 Jul 64, p. 13.
34Memo, DASD (CR) for Roy Davenport, et al., s May 64, sub Requests for suit by Military Personnel Under the Civil Rights sill; idem for ASD (M), 10 Jul 64, sub DOD Instruction on Processing of Requests by Military Personnel for the cringing Of Civil Rights suits by the Attorney General; both in ASD (M) 291.2. For an example Of a service response, see Memo, Dep Under SA (Pers Management) for DASD (CR), 9 Jul 64, same sub, ASD (M) 291.2
35DoD Instr 5S25.2, 24 Jul 64, Processing Of Requests by Military Personnel for Action by the Attorney General Under the Civil Rights Act; see also Memo, ASD (M) for Under SA et al., 24 Jul 64, same sub, ASD (M) 291.2.
36DoD Directive 5500.11, 28 Dec 64.
37Memo, ASD (M) for Dir, BOB, 15 Jul 64, sub Defense Department Regulations to Implement Title Vl of the Civil Rights Act; see also Ltr, spec Asst to DASD (CR), to Gesell, 24 Jul 64; copies of both in Gesell Collection, J. F. Kennedy Library.
38DASD (CP, IR, & CR), The Civil Rights Policies of the Department of Defense, 4 May 65, copy in CMH.
39Ltr, Jordan to William A. Smith, 21 Aug 64, ASD (M) 291.2.
40Memo, DASD (CR) for ASD (M), 10 Jul 64, sub: DOD Instruction on Processing of Requests by Military Personnel for the Bringing of Civil Rights Suits by the Attorney General, ASD (M) 291.2.
41Memo, Timpane (Staff Asst) for Shulman, DASD (CP, IR, & CR), 11 Feb 65, sub: Service Reports on Equal Rights Activities, ASD (M) 291.2.
42For discussion of command initiatives and black morale, see Memo, DASD (CR) for Under SA et al., 25 May 64, sub: Off-Base Equal Opportunity Inventories; Fitt, "Remarks Before Civilian Aides Conference of the Secretary of the Army," 6 Mar 64; Memo, DASD (CR) for Burke Marshall, Dept of Justice, 20 Mar 64, sub: The Civil Rights of Negro Servicemen. Copies of all in CMH.
43For the discussion of McNamara's initial dealings with the National Guard on the subject of race, see Chapter 20.
44"Opinion of the Legal Adviser of the National Guard Bureau, April 1949, " reproduced in Special Board to Study Negro Participation in the Army National Guard (ARNG) and the United States Army Reserve (USAR), "Participation of Negroes in the Reserve Components of the Army," 3 vols. (1967) (hereafter cited as Williams Board Rpt), 11: 20-21.
45Memo, Asst Gen Counsel (Manpower) for ASD (M), 17 Jul 61, sub: Integration of National Guard, ASD (M) 291.2.
46For a discussion of earlier efforts to integrate the New Jersey National Guard and the attitude of individual states toward Defense Department requests, see Chapter 12.
47Memo, Legal Adviser, NGB, for Bruce Docherty, Office of the General Counsel, DA, 19 Jul 63, sub: Authority to Require Integration in the National Guard, copy in CMH.
48Ltrs, Chief, NGB, to AG's of Alabama et al., 3 Mar 62, 3 Jul 63, and 9 Dec 63, see also Williams Board Rpt, 11: 36.
49Ltr, Maj Gen Raymond H. Fleming, Adjutant General, Louisiana National Guard, to Chief, NGB, 16 Jul 63, copy in CMH.
50See Memos: Chief, NGB, for Gen Counsel, DA, 22 Oct 63, sub: Current Status of Integration of National Guard in Ten Southern States; idem for DASD (CR), 30 Dec 63, sub: Year-End Report on Integration of Negroes in the National Guard; idem for Dep Under SA (Manpower and Res Forces), 9 Jan 64, sub: Meeting With National Chairman of the American Veterans Committee. Copies of all in CMH.
5l''Statement by Maj. Gen. Winston C. Wilson, Chief, National Guard Bureau Concerning Integration of the National Guard," 28 Dec 64, copy in CMH; see also New York Times, December 30, 1964, and Williams Board Rpt, ll: 38.
52Memo, Dep SecDef for SA and SecAF, 15 Feb 65, sub: Equality of Opportunity in the National Guard, SD 291.2; see also Memo, Chief, NGB, for Chief, Office of Reserve Components, 27 Jan 65. For examples of how Vance's order was transmitted to the individual states, see Texas Air National Guard Regulation 35-1, 17 March 1965, and State of Michigan General Order No. 34, 2 July 1965. In March 1966 the Army and Air Force published a joint regulation outlining procedures to assure compliance with Title Vl in the Army and Air National Guard and designating the Chief of the National Guard Bureau as the responsible official to implement departmental directives regarding all federally assisted activities of the National Guard. See National Guard Regulation 24, 30 Mar 66.
53Congressman Multer first introduced such a bill on 13 January 1949 and pressed, unsuccessfully, for similar measures in each succeeding Congress; see Williams Board Rpt, ll: 47-48.
54Memo, DASD (CR) for Burke Marshall, 20 Mar 64, sub The Civil Rights of Negro Servicemen, copy in CMH.
55Ltr, Actg U.S. Comm of Ed to Superintendent Of Public Instruction, Fla., et al., 6 Nov 62, with incls; see also Memo for Rcd, Evans, 20 Nov G2, sub Schools for Dependents, copies of both in CMH.
56AFNs, Release No. 2851 17 Aug 62.
57Four similar suits were flied in January 1963 regarding segregation in Huntsville and Mobile, Alabama; Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi; and Bossier Parish, Louisiana. Ltr, Atty Gen to President, 24 Jan 63 (released by White House on 26 Jan 63), copy in CMH. See New York Times, September 18, 1962.
58Washington Post, January 17, 1963.
59Both the Marine Corps and the Navy operated installations in the vicinity of Albany, Georgia.
60Memo, ASD (M) for SA et at, 15 Jut 63, sub Assignment Of Dependents of Military Personnel to Public Schools, ASD (M) 291.2.
61Memo, DASD (CR) for Under SecNav, 4 Dec 63, sub Dependent Schooling in Closed School Districts; Memo, Asst SecNav for DASD (CR), 20 Dec 63, same sub; both in SecNav files, GenRecsNav. see also Memo, DASD (CR) for Burke Marshall et al., 9 Mar 64, sub Possible September 1964 School Closings Affecting Military Dependents, Copy in CMH.
62Memo, DASD (CR) for Under SA et at, 17 Apr 64, sub Assignment of Dependents of Military Personnel to Public Schools; see also idem for ASD (M), 2 Apr 64, sub Segregated Schools and Military Dependents. For an example Of how this new responsibility was conveyed to local commanders, see supers Notice 5350.5, 26 Jul 63, ``Assignment Of Dependents of Military Personnel to Public Schools.' Copies of all in CMH.
63Memo, DASD (CR) for Under SA et al., 25 May 64, sub: Off-Base Equal Opportunity Inventories, copy in CMH.
64For an example of how these contracts for the education of dependents were tied to federal aid, see the case concerning Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, as discussed in Ltr, DASD (CR) to J. Francis Pohlhaus NAACP, 5 Nov 63. For the views of the secretary's race counselor on the Fitt assessment, see Ltr, Evans to Mrs. Frank C. Eubanks, 10 Jun 64. Copies of both in CMH.
65Memo, DASD (CR) for Spec Asst to SecAF for Manpower, Personnel, and Reserve Forces, 23 Jun 64, SecAF files. Similar memos were sent to the Army and Navy the same day. For an example of how these reports were used, see Memo, Spec Asst to DASD (CR) for St. John Barrett, Civil Rights Div. Dept of Justice, 20 Aug 64, sub: Desegregation of Schools Serving Children of Shaw AFB, South Carolina, Personnel. Copies of all in CMH.
66Memo, ASD (M) for Under SA et al., 9 Aug 65, sub: Assignment of Dependents of Military Personnel to Public Schools, ASD (M) 291.2.
67Memo, ASD (M) for SA et al., 25 Mar 64, sub: Non-Discrimination in Civil Schooling of Military Personnel; Ltr, DASD (CR) to Congressman John Bell Williams of Mississippi, 18 Mar 64, Ltr, DASD (M) to Sen. Richard Russell of Georgia, 8 Jul 64; Memo, DASD (CR) for Roy Davenport et al., 20 Apr 64. Copies of all in CMH.
68Memo, Timpane for DASD (CP, IR, & CR), 11 Feb 65, sub: Service Reports on Equal Rights Activities In a related action the department made military facilities available for the use of the College Entrance Examination Board when that body was confronted with segregated facilities in which to administer its tests, see Memos, Dep Chief, Pers Services Div. USAF, for AFLC et al., 8 Mar 63, sub: College Entrance Examinations and Evans for DASD (M), 15 Jan 63, sub: College Entrance Examination Board Communication. Fitt opposed this policy on the grounds that it removed a wholesome pressure on the segregated private facilities, see Memo, DASD (CR) for ASD (M), 2 Mar 64, sub: College Entrance Examinations at Military Installations. Fitt was overruled, and the military facilities were provided for the college entrance examinations, see Ltr, Regional Dir, College Entrance Examination Bd, to Evans, 13 Apt 64. Copies of all in CMH.
69Memo, ASD (CR) for SecDef, 29 Oct 63, sub: Family Housing and the Negro Serviceman, Civil Rights Commission Staff Report; Memo, ASD (M) for SecDef, 2 Nov 63, sub: Family Housing for Negro Servicemen; both in ASD (M) 291.2.
70Interv, Bernhard with Wofford, 29 Nov 65, p. 60.
71Memo, ASD (M) for SecDef, 2 Nov 63, sub: Family Housing for Negro Servicemen, ASD (M) 291.2.
72Ltr, DASD (CR) to Chmn, President's Cmte on Equal Opportunity in Housing, 19 Sep 63, copy in CMH; see also Paul Memo.
73Ltr, Fitt to author, 22 May 72.
74Ltr, Dep SecDef to J. Charles Jones, Chairman, ACCESS, 21 Feb 67, copy in CMH; see also the detailed account of the Department of Defense's housing campaign in Bahr, "The Expanding Role of the Department of Defense," p. 105.
75ACCES was one of the several local, biracial open-housing groups that sprang up to fight discrimination in housing during the mid-1960's. The center of this particular group's concern was in the Washington D.C., suburbs.
76Ltr, Dep SecDef to Jones, 21 Feb 67, copy in CMH.
77Ltr, Pitt to author, 22 May 72; see also New York Times and Washington Post, February 2, 1967.
78Robert E. Jordan, former DASD (CR) assistant, described the secretary's eagerness to support civil rights initiatives: "He would hardly wait for an explanation, but start murmuring, 'Where do I sign, where do I sign?' " Interv, author with Jordan, 7 Jun 72.
79Quoted by grower, "McNamara Seen Now, Full Length," p. 78. The TFX mentioned by McNamara was an allusion to the heated and lengthy controversy that arose during his administration over fighter aircraft for the Navy and Air Force.
80A weakened version of this bill eventually emerged as the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
81McNamara, The Essence of Security, p. 124.
82Quoted by grower, "McNamara Seen Now, Full Length," p. 89.
83Memo, Dep SecDef for Secys of Military Departments, 11 Apr 67, sub: Equal Opportunity for Military Personnel in Rental of Off-Base Housing. Vance's instructions were spelled out in great detail, replete with charts and forms, in Memo, ASD (M) for Dep Under Secys of Military Departments (Manpower), 22 Apr 67, same sub. Copies of both in CMH.
84Memos, ASD (M) for Dep Under Secys of Military Departments, 22 Apr and 17 Jul 67, sub: Equal Opportunity for Military Personnel in Rental of Off-Base Housing. For the effect of this order on an individual commander, see article by Charles Hunter in Charleston, South Carolina, Post, August 30, 1967. See also Interv, author with Bennett, 13 Dec 73.
85Intervs, author with McNamara, 11 May 72, and Jordan, 7 Jan 72.
86McNamara, The Essence of Security, p. 126.
87Interv, author with McNamara, 11 May 72.
88Joint Resolution 47 of the
Maryland General Assembly as cited in Memo, SecDef for Secretaries of
Military Departments, 22 Jun 67, sub: Unsatisfactory Housing of Negro Military Families Living Off-Post in
the Andrews Air Force Base Area, copy in CMH. See also New York Times, May 26, 1967, and Yarmolinsky,
The Military Establishment, p. 352.
89Interv, author with Gesell, 3 Nov 74.
90Memo, SecDef for Secretaries
of Military Departments, 22 Jun 67, sub: Unsatisfactory Housing of Negro
Military Families Living Off-Post in the Andrews Air Force Base Area, SD files. The quotation is from
McNamara's News Conference, 22 June 1967, as quoted in the New York Times, June 23, 1967.
91New York Times, June 23, 1967. Rivers did criticize later applications of the housing sanctions; see Washington Post, December 28,1977.
92Actually, McNamara imposed the sanctions in the first two instances, the Secretary Of the Army in the other two.
93DoD News Release No. 1209-67,26 Dec 67.
94Memo, SecDef for Service Secys et al., 17 Jul 67, sub: Offbase Housing Referral Services, SD files
951n Jones v. Mayer (392 U.S.409, 421 ) the Supreme Court held that the Civil Rights Act Of 1968 ``bars all racial discrimination, private as well as public, in the sale of rental of property. For Clifford's response, see Memo, SecDef for Secys Of Military Departments, et al., 20 Jun 68; Clark Clifford, News conference, 20 Jun 68; Memo, ASD (M&RA) for Secys of Military Departments, et al., 25 Nov 68. For instructions concerning legal assistance to servicemen and civilian employees of the Department of Defense under the 1968 Civil Rights Act, see DOD Instr 1338.12, 8 Aug 68. Copy of all in CMH.
96SecDef News Conference, 29 Jun 68, transcript in CMH.
97McNamara, The Essence of Security, p. 127.
98Bahr, "The Expanding Role of the Department of Defense, " p. 123.
99McNamara, The Essence of Security, p. 127.
100This analysis owes much to the author's correspondence with Alfred Fitt and the interviews with McNamara, Gesell, and Jordan. See also Memo, Timpane for Stephen Schulman, 11 Feb 65, sub: Service Reports of Equal Rights Activities, and Paul Memo. Copies of all in CMH.
101lnterv, author with Bennett, 13 Dec 73.