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