Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2016

Document Type

Thesis: Open Access

Degree Name

MA History



Committee Chair

Dr. Michael Gonzalez

Committee Co-Chair

Dr. Iris Engstrand

Committee Member

Dr. Iris Engstrand


Using statistical data and other evidence, this thesis will show that obstacles and barriers that once limited housing, job opportunity and education for African Americans have since been removed within the U.S. military. Throughout this thesis, careful examination will show how desegregation in the military was an instrument of social change that helped to integrate American society. It will also go one step further and illustrate the profound impact the Civil Rights Movement had on black equality in the armed forces. Furthermore, while acknowledging the struggles many African Americans endured prior to the establishment of the All-Volunteer Force, this thesis will identify a shift in American attitude from 1951-2015.

Finally it has become clear that this thesis has determined that equality for African Americans serving in the military has improved dramatically after 1975. The rise in rank of African Americans in the military has been nothing short of remarkable. By 2015, African Americans in the military haven been given the charge of responsibility in some of the most prestigious positions in all branches of the military than ever before. With an increase in opportunities such as education, housing, pay, promotions, achievements, and tributes it is time to acknowledge that blacks are no longer subjected to second-class citizenship. What is absolute above all else is that by 2015 African Americans were capable of achieving any position in any branch of the military for which they are qualified. Moreover, this analysis shows how the U.S. military is color blind and treats all its members with the dignity and respect that they deserve.