In Washington, D.C, on July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981, desegregating the armed forces. He declared, “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” In June 1950 when the Selective Services Law was up for renewal, Richard B. Russell, a Democratic Senator from Georgia, tried a second time to attach his segregation amendment that would grant draftees and new inductees an opportunity to choose if they wanted to serve in segregated military units—Congress defeated it.
Over 6953 miles away, there was another north and south divide, the 38th Parallel. The 38th Parallel separated North Korea from South Korea. When North Korea crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded South Korea, it resulted in massive losses in white units which put Executive Order 9981 to the test. Commanders began accepting Blacks as replacements.
During Black History Month 2020, “ Heroes Group Roundtable For Family Caregivers” spoke with one of the daughters of William Clarence Poindexter. Poindexter was born in Macon, Mississippi. After graduating in 1951, he was called to serve in the Korean Conflict where he was a member of the first group of U.S. soldiers to serve in integrated units; was promoted to Corporal; awarded the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star medal for meritorious service.
Regardless of suffering injuries and putting his life on the line, William Poindexter returned to the U.S. with great pride. What he noted, to be shameful, was returning home to his country that was still racially divided. Nevertheless, he would talk about the good and the bad of the Korean Conflict, reflecting on how his experience helped shape his life.
During his later years, William Poindexter only wanted to go to the Veterans Affairs hospital. This afforded him opportunities to bond with comrades that understood “military experience.” When Pointdexter developed health issues, his four children weren’t divided; they worked together as his caregivers.
Sadly enough, some label the Korean Conflict, the “Forgotten War.” Being that William Clarence Poindexter was a member of the first integrated unit, he will never be forgotten because “his-story” lives forever.
Keisha L. Jackson is retired Air Force veteran. After 22 years of honorable service, she signed to write for a women’s magazine. Shortly thereafter, her mother was diagnosed with Stage Four inoperable lung cancer. Keisha resigned to become her primary caregiver. Six months after her mother passed, one of her brothers fell, causing internal bleeding and broken ribs. After becoming his primary caregiver, Keisha started networking and learning about caregiving resources available. Keisha hopes to partner with on-line and in-person caregiver communities to encourage, educate, and empower other caregivers.