National History Day

Civil Rights


The U.S. Army has consistently expanded its ranks to reflect “a more perfect Union.” This has led to equal treatment for all people.

During the Revolutionary War, the Slave Enlistment Act enabled free and enslaved Black men to enlist in the 1st Rhode Island Regiment. In the Civil War, 186,000 Black Soldiers served in over 166 regiments of the Union Army. Their service led to the formation of four all-Black Army regiments known as the Buffalo Soldiers. Black Soldiers continued to serve the Army in the War with Spain, World War I, and World War II. Ultimately leading to President Truman’s 1948 Executive Order 9981 that desegregated the militaries.

How did the U.S. Army’s achievements and policies influence U.S. Civil Rights policy?

Why did individuals enlist in the Army despite unequal treatment at home?


Soldiers and Heroic Acts: A Series of Turning Points in the Pursuit of Civil Rights

Soldier Stories

William Carney
James Armistead Lafayette
Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
Charity Adams Earley
Medgar W. Evers
Henry O. Flipper
Hazel Johnson-Brown
Cathay Williams


United States Colored Troops in the American Civil War
The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment
Buffalo Soldiers
The 555th Parachute Infantry Company “Triple Nickles”
Executive Order 9981