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Letter to the Chairman of the Committee on Equal Opportunity in the Armed forces.

June 24, 1962

[Released June 24, 1962. Dated June 22, 1962]

Dear Mr. Gesell:

The Department of Defense has made great progress since the end of World War II in promoting equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the Armed forces. The military services can take justifiable pride in their outstanding accomplishments in this area over the past ten years.

It is appropriate now, however, to make a thorough review of the current situation both within the services and in the communities where military installations are located to determine what further measures may be required to assure equality of treatment for all persons serving in the Armed forces.

There is considerable evidence that in some civilian communities in which military installations are located, discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, or national origin is a serious source of hardship and embarrassment for Armed forces personnel and their dependents.

In order that I may have the benefit of advice from an independent body of distinguished citizens on the most effective action that can be taken to cope with the problem I am establishing a Committee on Equality of Opportunity in the Armed forces, and I ask that you serve as Chairman of the Committee.

The Committee will include in its consideration of the general problem the following specific questions:

1. What measures should be taken to improve the effectiveness of current policies and procedures in the Armed forces with regard to equality of treatment and opportunity for persons in the Armed forces?

2. What measures should be employed to improve equality of opportunity for members of the Armed forces and their dependents in the civilian community, particularly with respect to housing, education, transportation, recreational facilities, community events, programs and activities?

The Secretary of Defense will make all necessary facilities of the Department of Defense available to the Committee for carrying out this important assignment.



[Gerhard A. Gesell, Esquire, Union Trust Building, Washington 5, D.C.]

Note: The White House release of which the letter was a part announced the President's appointment of the Committee and listed the members, in addition to Mr. Gesell, as follows: Joseph O'Meara, South Bend, Ind.; Nathaniel Colley, Sacramento, Calif.; Abe Fortas, Washington, D.C.; Benjamin Muse, Manassas, Va.; John Sengstacke, Chicago, Ill.; Whitney Young, New York, N.Y.

John F. Kennedy, Letter to the Chairman of the Committee on Equal Opportunity in the Armed forces. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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