Executive Order 9981, issued by President Harry Truman on July 26, 1948, desegregated all branches of the United States military by decree. EO 9981 is often portrayed as a heroic and unexpected move by Truman. But in reality, Truman's history-making order was the culmination of more than 150 years of legal, political, and moral struggle.
The Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education is widely considered a seminal point in the battle to end segregation, but it was in fact the culmination of a decades-long legal campaign. Root and Branch is the epic story of the two fiercely dedicated lawyers who led the fight from county courthouses to the marble halls of the Supreme Court, and, in the process, laid the legal foundations of the civil rights movement.