This research has led me to draw several conclusions about the role of African-Americans in the Unites States military. The first is that black Americans have fought as bravely, as heroically, and as successfully as white Americans - no more so, no less so. Yet black military achievements deserve special praise because they took place in the face of racism and discrimination. It takes extra devotion to defend a country which has denied you your full rights as a citizen.
Second, it seems that racism within the military closely paralleled racism within the rest of society historically. One has to look closely to see this. The practice of giving black soldiers the most dangerous assignments in unpopular wars is not a sign of racial progress, but rather evidence of racism. So while it would be inaccurate to see the military as an institution more racially biased than other American institutions, it would be equally inaccurate to see the military as a haven of racial tolerance.
Having said that, I would still conclude that the military has moved more quickly toward racial equality than most other American institutions since the end of the Vietnam War. Blacks certainly have more opportunities to become officers than ever before.
Finally, I believe the five year period from 1997 to 2002 will be remembered as the time when scholarship in this area advanced considerably. Military historians Gerald Astor and Michael Lee Lanning deserve most of the credit for telling the important story of the African-American role in the United States military in an inspiring yet scholarly manner.