Dick Polman ("Obama needs just a bit of Truman's courage," Sunday) is right. President Obama needs to combine courage, justice, and pragmatism in eliminating "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," so that gay and lesbian military personnel aren't eliminated from providing their voluntary and valuable service to our nation.

Perhaps Obama needs an A. Philip Randolph, the onetime newspaper editor and longtime labor leader who successfully nudged President Roosevelt in 1941 to guarantee war industry job opportunities for African Americans, but failed temporarily in his goal to see the military become racially integrated.

Randolph and others later brought pressure that may well have helped President Truman issue a long overdue order that our fighting forces represent all of America. Were Randolph alive today, it is likely he would join the battle for gays in the military. He and gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin worked together through the years for human rights. Their partnership planned the 1963 March on Washington.

Barbara McDowell Dowdall

A. Philip Randolph Career Academy

Philadelphia