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The tragic stories behind the executive order that desegregated the U.S. armed forces

By DeNeen L. Brown,

Two years before President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order to desegregate the armed forces, a black World War II veteran in uniform was pulled from a bus in Batesburg, S.C., and severely beaten by a police chief violently swinging a nightstick.

Isaac Woodard, who was accused of talking back to the bus driver, lost consciousness in the assault and was permanently blinded.

“Negro veterans that fought in this war . . . don’t realize that the real battle has just begun in America,” Woodard, who was attacked Feb. 12, 1946, hours after he had been honorably discharged, told the Chicago Defender newspaper.


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