The Navy's Change of Policy
...during World War 2
The Navy's change of policy came about after many Blacks showed their eagerness and heroism despite restrictions steeped in tradition and prejudice.
In June 1942 for the first time, the Navy accepted Blacks inductees from selective service. At later dates, Blacks were commissioned as naval officers, admitted into the WAVES, SPARS, and Nurse Corps, and began to assign Blacks for general duty aboard ships of all classifications.
On August 31, 1945, there were 165,506 Black enlisted men in the Navy and 53 Black officers. In the Marine Corps there were 16,964 Black enlisted men; and 3,727 Black enlisted men and 4 officers in the Coast Guard. On that same date Black women in the naval service included 68 WAVES and 2 officers and 38 officer candidates; while there were 4 Black Navy nurses and 5 enlisted SPARS.
As the number of Blacks in the Navy increased, and they showed their qualifications, the Navy began to relax its restrictions. On August 9, 1944, the Navy began to assign Blacks in special service to man, partially, 25 large auxiliary vessels. Most of these ships were assigned to combat areas in the Pacific. Approximately 500 Blacks were assigned to those ships, both as petty officers and nonrated personnel. The 25 vessels were of the following types: Store ships, ammunition ships, cargo ships, oilers, and miscellaneous auxiliaries.
On July 13, 1945, Lester B. Granger, executive secretary of the National Urban League stated, "The Navy has made remarkable strides in the last 2 years toward complete equality of expression in the service."
REFERENCE: Appendix to the Congressional Record, 1946.