Island of Integration
Camp Lee, Virginia, was chosen as the training center for female enlisted and officer personnel in 1948. Approximately 30,000 WACs were trained there before it was moved to Ft. McClellan, Alabama. Also in 1948, President Harry Truman issued Executive Order 9981 declaring “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” This policy was quickly adopted by the women at Camp/Fort Lee. By the early 1950s, the training center was described by newspapers as “an island of integration in an otherwise sea of segregation.” Women, regardless of race, were training, working, living and socializing side by side while the rest of society and even the military installation remained racially segregated.