08 February 2012

Black History Bites: Nibble 8

The Montford Point Marines

Between 1942 and 1949, approximately 20,000 African-American men enlisted in the Marines. Recruitment for the first Black Marines, known as the Montford Marines, began in June of 1942. Rather than being trained at the traditional Marine boot camps at Parris Island, South Carolina or San Diego, California, these troops were sent to and trained at the segregated Camp Montford Point in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Despite the both blatant and institutional racial prejudices that stood in their way, these men went on to serve the United States bravely, admirably, and historically, in battles from Iwo Jima and Okinawa to the Korean and Vietnam wars. Their legacy lives on today; their bravery changed the face of the Marines forever.

In November of 2011, President Barack Obama signed legislation that finally honored these history-making, boundary-breaking Marines. The legislation awarded a Congressional Gold Medal to these first Black enlistees in the U.S. Marines, in recognition of "their personal sacrifice and service to this country."

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