On this day in history, President Harry Truman issued two executive orders. Executive Order 9980 instituted fair employment practices in the civilian agencies of the federal government:
All personnel actions taken by Federal appointing officers shall be based solely on merit and fitness; and such officers are authorized and directed to take appropriate steps to insure that in all such actions there shall be no discrimination because of race, color, religion, or national origin.”
Executive Order 9981 directed the armed forces to provide “equality of treatment and opportunity for all personnel without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin” and established a presidential committee to monitor compliance.
The online Truman library has a nice hyperlinked chronology of events surrounding the desegregation of the Armed Forces, which you can access here.