Tuskegee Revisited

A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the most widely known spokesperson for black working-class interests in the United States, met with Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration to demand he sign an executive order banning discrimination against black workers in the defense industry. Randolph threatened to bring tens of thousands of marchers to Washington, D.C. On June 25, 1941, days before the march was to occur, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, which barred government agencies and federal contractors from refusing employment in industries engaged in defense production on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin. It was the first Presidential decree issued on race since Reconstruction. The order required the armed services, including the Marine Corps, to recruit and enlist African Americans.