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Beth Bailey
University of Kansas, Lawrence (Lawrence, KS 66045-7505)
The U.S. Army and "The Problem of Race" during the Vietnam Era

Research and writing of a history of race relations in the U.S. Army during the 1960s and 1970s. 

Today, institutions throughout the United States face renewed calls for racial justice. “The U.S. Army and ‘the Problem of Race’” looks to a previous era of racial conflict, arguing that we need to understand not only the demands of those who fought for change, but also the ways that major institutions incorporated, rejected, or struggled with those demands. Here, I examine the army’s attempts to manage “race” during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, exploring the struggles that yielded military justice reform, limited acceptance of cultural symbols (Afros; the dap), race relations education, and affirmative action programs. I show that, despite systemic racism, individuals made a difference, and argue that the army’s “institutional logic”-- the collective force of the army’s culture, history, and tradition, its structure and organization, its avowed mission—determined, to a great extent, how those attempted solutions played out: what would most easily succeed; what would more likely fail.

Project fields:
Military History; U.S. History

Public Scholars

Research Programs

$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022