For Immediate Release: June 19, 1998

Larry Hackman 816-268-8200
Truman Library and Museum

Dean Davison 816-842-1500
Michelle Manuel or Julie Goldsborough
Barkley Evergreen & Partners, Inc.


- Harry S. Truman Library Presents Retired General -

(Independence, Mo.) - Colin Powell was in elementary school in the Bronx in 1948 when President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, establishing the grounds for desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces. However, this once-controversial act changed Powell's life, allowing him to attain the highest military appointment in the United States.

Powell will commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Truman's Executive Order with a speech at RLDS Auditorium, 1001 W. Walnut, Independence, Mo., on July 24, 1998. The program begins at 6:30 p.m.; doors will open at 5:45 p.m.

This "Truman Library Presents" event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Information and reservations are available by calling Central Ticket Office at (816) 235-2700. President Truman's Executive Order of July 26, 1948 declared that "there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin," and established a Presidential committee to implement the order. His order initially met resistance, but Truman and the committee pushed through the reforms. By the end of the Korean War in 1953, 90 percent of military units were integrated, and the results were acclaimed widely as a success.

This program corresponds with the exhibition "1948: Year of Turmoil and Triumph," featured at the Truman Library through Feb. 10, 1999. The exhibition examines the momentous events that took place during 1948, including President Truman's desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces, recognition of the State of Israel, his memorable "Whistlestop" election campaign, and the Berlin Airlift.

Powell was a professional soldier for 35 years, holding a myriad of command and staff positions before rising to his final assignment as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1989. Since retiring in 1993, Powell has chaired the Presidents' Summit for America's Future in 1997 and has written his best-selling autobiography, My American Journey.

Locally, Powell has been an avid supporter of the Buffalo Soldier monument project planned for Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, where he once served.

Powell's speech is sponsored by the Harry S. Truman Library Institute, the University of Missouri - Kansas City and the Afro-American Military Historical Association. Other supporters of the event include Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., The Kansas City Star, Sprint, and The Black Community Foundation.

This event opens the conference, "African-Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces: Past, Present & Future," to be held at the University of Missouri-Kansas City on July 25. The one-day conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the University Center, 5000 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, Mo. For more information about this conference, please contact Delia Crutchfield Cook at (816) 235-2548 or (816) 235-1631. For information about the Afro-American Military Historical Association, please contact Albert O. Bly at P.O. Box 270205, Kansas City, Mo., 64127.

The Truman Library and Museum is one of ten Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. It is located at U.S. Highway 24 and Delaware Street in Independence, Mo. For recorded information about upcoming programs and events, call 1-800-833-1225 or visit the Truman Library's Web site at /.

Editor's Note: Gen. Powell will be available for a brief question and answer session with reporters only in the Truman Library Auditorium at 6:00 p.m.

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