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Memorandum for the Assistant Chief
of Staff, G-1 [Haislip]
March 21, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
There has been a lot of newspaper publicity, of the “jim crow” colored equality character, sent around with the allegation that this Colonel Randell is to be relieved. Will you look into this and find out if there is anything to it, and make certain that I see the papers when they come through.1
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. On March 16, 1941, the National Lawyers Guild had charged that the armed services practiced “Jim Crow discrimination,” particularly protesting the Selective Service’s use of a separate quota system for drafting blacks. The guild contended that this was a “denial of the very essence of democracy.” (New York Times, March 17, 1941, p. 19.)
The War Department had converted the Eighth Illinois Infantry to the 184th Field Artillery before its induction into federal service. The commander of this black unit failed his physical examination and the selection of a replacement was necessary. Since there were no black Regular Army officers available for command on the line at that time, the question of succession caused consternation. Congressman Raymond S. McKeough, Democrat from Chicago, informed Marshall that the black community was upset that a white officer might command the 184th. After much deliberation, Lieutenant General Ben Lear, Second Army commanding general, recommended Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Randell, a black officer from within the regiment, for promotion, thus settling the command problem. (Orlando Ward to McKeough, March 6, 1941, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 20602-132]; Lee, Employment of Negro Troops, pp. 198-99.)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 449,