Given his background, President Truman was an unlikely champion of civil rights. Where he grew up - the border state of Missouri - segregation was accepted and largely unquestioned. Both his maternal and paternal grandparents had owned slaves, and his mother, victimized by Yankee forces, railed against Abraham Lincoln until her death. Yet it was Harry Truman who energized the modern civil rights movement, a movement that basically had stalled since the Emancipation Proclamation. Michael R. Gardner recounts Truman's public and private actions regarding black Americans. By analysing speeches, private conversation with colleagues, the executive orders that shattered federal segregation policies and the appointments of like-minded civil rights activists to important positions, Gardner traces Truman's evolution from a man who grew up in a racist household into a president willing to put his political career at mortal risk by actively working to transform the ideal of equal rights for Americans into a reality.
Michael R. Gardner is a communications policy attorney in Washington, D.C. He also serves as the pro bono chairman of the United States Telecommunications Training Institute, a nonprofit international training initiative he founded in 1982 while serving as the U.S. ambassador to the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. A graduate of the College at Georgetown University and of the Georgetown University Law School, Gardner has served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and has also served on four presidential commissions under Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush senior.