On this day in 1948, former President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order to desegregate America’s military forces 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.”
Many Black people who were migrating North from the South joined the armed forces but some were still met with resistance. It wasn’t until the end of Korean War that the Army was completely integrated, per The National Archives. During that war, former U.S. Representative Charles Rangel had been fought with the 2nd Infantry Division at 17 years old.
Rangel isn’t the only big name that decided to join the military. Music artists like MC Hammer and legendary actors like James Earl Jones decided to enlist back in the day before embarking on their career journey.
As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the integration of the country’s military, let celebrate these 20 Black celebrities who served the country.