Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Susan Medler
PH 816.268.8245
FAX 816.268.8299

Program Commemorating 60th Anniversary of Desegregating
Armed Services to Feature Congressman Conyers,
Eyewitness to Truman's Civil Rights Legacy

INDEPENDENCE, MO-U.S. Congressman John Conyers, Jr. will provide the keynote address for
a program honoring the 60th anniversary of President Truman's Executive Order 9981, which bypassed Congressional opposition to end racial segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces in 1948.

The public program also will include the Whiteman Air Force Base Honor Guard, the music of a local gospel choir, and remarks by U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver.

Congressmen Cleaver and Ike Skelton are honorary co-chairs for the event, which will begin at 4 p.m. on Monday, July 28, 2008 at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri; attendees are invited to the post-event reception.

African Americans have served in every United States military conflict since the American Revolution. But it took until July 26, 1948, when President Truman signed Executive Order 9981, for the United States to guarantee "equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin." Truman's controversial stand was as crucial to the civil rights movement as the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In General Colin Powell's words, Truman's advocacy ensured that the military was a place "where the color of your guts and the color of your blood was more important than the color of your skin."

U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Jr. - who served our country in uniform from 1948 to 1954 - will share his eyewitness account of this remarkable chapter in our nation's history. A veteran of the Korean War and the second most senior member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Conyers is one of the 13 founding members and considered the Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus. He is the recipient of many leadership awards, including a Southern Christian Leadership Conference Award, presented to him by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This commemorative program is free and open to the public. Seating is limited, and demand for tickets is expected to be very high. To reserve seats or be placed on a waiting list, the public is asked to please call (816) 268-8261.

Hailed as America's "best presidential museum," the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum is one of 12 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. It is supported, in part, by the Harry S. Truman Library Institute, the not-for-profit partner of the Truman Library. The Institute seeks to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history and culture, the process of governance, and the importance of public service, as exemplified by Harry S. Truman. To learn more about the Truman Library and the Harry S. Truman Library Institute, visit www.trumanlibrary.org.

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