Executive Order 9981 was issued by President Truman in order to abolish segregation within the Armed Forces. There were African-American service members prior to Executive Order 9981 serving in the Armed Forces, but this Order helped ensure the fair treatment and training for everyone. Executive Order 9981 stated that "there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin." The vulnerable class intended for protection was primarily African-Americans, but the Order was designed to protect all races within the Armed Forces. This was a huge move within the Armed Forces. Since the colonial period and all the way through World War I and Korea, African-Americans served in the Armed Forces, but it was believed that they did not have the mental, physical, or moral character to serve in primary roles and they were succumbed to labor-intensive roles and rarely served in combat. To date, 89 African-American service members have been awarded the Medal of Honor. One African-American, Robert Augustus Sweeny, was awarded 2 Medals of Honor.
Reference:African-American Medal of Honor Recipients. (2016). Retrieved from https://blog.fold3.com/african-american-medal-of-honor-recipients/