Crime History: Police beating of black veteran leads to integration of military

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Local,Crime,Scott McCabe

On this day, Feb. 13, in 1946, black U.S. Army veteran Isaac Woodard Jr. was permanently blinded by a police beating in Aiken, S.C., sparking national outrage that ultimately led to the integration of the military.

Woodard, a decorated sergeant in World War II, had been honorably discharged just 10 hours earlier.

Woodard was still in uniform on his way home when he got into a verbal dispute with a bus driver. In jail, Woodard was beaten so severely that he lost sight in both eyes.

The sheriff was tried but acquitted by an all-white jury in 28 minutes.

The incident prompted President Harry Truman to name the first commission on civil rights and issue an executive order that integrated the military.

- Scott McCabe

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