| FOR IMMEDIATE
RELEASE: July 9, 2004
Contacts: Scott Roley,
Harry S. Truman Museum & Library, (816) 833-8200
J. Anthony Snorgrass, American Jazz Museum (816) 474-8463
Event: "An Evening with Roger Wilkins"
Date: July 22, 2004
Location: Gem Theater: 18th & Vine
Roger Wilkins to speak at the Gem Theater
on Thursday, July 22, 2004, in honor of the
anniversary of the desegregation of the armed services.
Kansas City, MO -The American Jazz Museum and Harry S. Truman Presidential
Museum and Library will present lawyer, author, philanthropist, journalist
and educator Roger Wilkins as the featured speaker honoring the anniversary
of President Truman's issuance of Executive Order 9981 which desegregated
the armed services on July 26, 1948. The event will take place at the
historic Gem Theater at 18th and Vine at 7:00 p.m. on July 22, 2004.
Wilkins, a native
of Kansas City, is publisher of The Crisis, the NAACP's monthly journal,
and professor of History and American Culture at George Mason University.
In 1972 Wilkins won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Watergate during
his tenure with The Washington Post. A former assistant attorney general
during Lyndon Johnson's administration, Mr. Wilkins holds a law degree
from the University of Michigan.
He attended Crispus
Attucks elementary school in the 18th & Vine Historic district where
his father Earl was business manager of The Kansas City Call newspaper.
His uncle Roy, one of the 20th century's most articulate spokesmen for
the Civil Rights Movement, served as The Call's managing editor before
becoming executive director of the NAACP.
The Kansas City Call
Newspaper will be honored as the 2004 recipient of the annual Truman &
Civil Rights Community Service Award for preserving and promoting the
principles and ideas Harry S. Truman started during his presidency.
President Harry S.
Truman's civil rights record was groundbreaking, but represented only
the barest steps in a nation that remained completely segregated in the
south and largely so in states such as Missouri and Kansas. Nonetheless,
there is a growing appreciation of Truman's efforts. He is perhaps best
remembered for issuing Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948 declaring
"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. 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.
Tickets to this event
at the Gem Theater are $5 each. For tickets, contact the American Jazz
Museum at (816)474-8463. For more information visit www.trumanlibrary.org
Additional Background information:
While this Executive
Order is undeniably the most well known, President Truman played a pivotal
role in the cause for civil rights on several fronts.
- Establishing the
Truman Committee on Civil Rights in 1946. The multiracial Committee's
major product was a 1947 report entitled, To Secure These Rights. The
report laid the foundation for establishing adequate statutes under
the law to foster equal rights for all under the Constitution.
- Being the first
President to address the NAACP on June 29, 1947. Truman detailed his
civil rights program and became the first U.S. President to unequivocally
commit himself and the Federal government to the civil rights of black
- Sending a special
civil rights message to Congress on February 2, 1948. Truman told Congress
that he was putting his legislative proposals before them to achieve
his highest priority--to fully secure the essential rights of our citizens.
- Winning the Democratic
nomination for President, July 15, 1948, after 35 delegates from Alabama
and Mississippi had walked out of the convention in protest against
his party's strong civil rights plank, and winning the Presidential
election contrary to the forecasts of newspaper editors and polltakers.
The President spoke in Harlem on October 29, just four days before the
election, declaring that "our determination to attain equal rights
and equal opportunity must be resolute and unwavering" and we eventually
"are going to have an America in which freedom and opportunity
are the same for everyone." Truman later referred to this speech
as the high point of the campaign.
- Issuing simultaneous
with Executive Order 9981 Executive Order 9980, on Governing Fair Employment
Practices within the Federal Establishment. This Order eliminated discriminatory
practices throughout the Federal government based on race, color, religion,
or national origin.
- Carrying out his
vision of a colorblind judicial system by nominating a black lawyer,
William H. Hastie, to the country's all-white federal court system on
October 15, 1949. Two months later an unprecedented civil rights initiative
was undertaken by Truman's Justice Department when the solicitor general
announced that the Federal Housing Administration would refuse to provide
financial aid to any project that discriminated against African Americans.
- By the end of his
administration, Truman made four appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court:
Chief Justice Fred Vinson and Associate Justices Harold Burton, Tom
Clark and Sherman Minton. These four made a series of civil rights decisions
in education and housing that would change the lives of blacks forever.
They later [without Vinson who died in 1953] joined in the historic
unanimous decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, Topeka, declaring
racial segregation in the public schools unconstitutional.
The American Jazz
Museum is the only museum in the United States dedicated exclusively to
the celebration and experience of jazz as an original American art form.
Presidential Museum & Library is one of ten Presidential Libraries
administered by the National
Archives and Records Administration. It is located at U.S. Highway
24 and Delaware in Independence, Missouri. For more information on the
Museum and programs, call (816) 833-1225 or visit www.trumanlibrary.org.