As many of you know, this month is Black History Month. Ordinarily, I don’t get a chance to write about this month, however, I felt that this time around it would be a great thing, if I covered certain Black people and/or groups that represent some of the many things that make up who I am as an American Muslim.
Today, I have chosen the Montford Point Marines.
As a Marine Corps veteran myself, I chose them because they are representative not only of the Black Experience in America, but also the struggle many blacks had to go through in order for me to claim association with the greatest military force in the world.
Had it not been for these particular Marines, I may not have been able to wear the uniform with as much pride as I did, and because of them I wear eagle, globe, and anchor with a bit more pride.
Who exactly were the Montford Point Marines?
Montford Point was a United States Marine Corps recruit depot in North Carolina. Created in 1942 as a satellite of the newly constructed Camp Lejeune, Montford Point was established for the training of black Marines during segregation.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 blacks were, for the first time, permitted to join the Marine Corps. Between 1942 and 1949, the camp at Montford Point trained 20,000 African-Americans. In 1948, after Executive Order 9981, the military was ordered to fully integrate. By 1949, Montford Point was renamed Camp Gilbert H. Johnson in honor of the late Sergeant Major Gilbert H. “Hashmark” Johnson. Johnson was one of the first African Americans to join the Marine Corps, serving during World War II and the Korean War, he was a Montford Point drill instructor. Camp Johnson became the home of the Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools.
I had the opportunity when I was in the Marine Corps to meet some of the Montford Point Marines as part of a black history month program. Their stories of struggle, pain, and triumph, made me realize not just how hard blacks had it, but also that even with those hardships they had and it took great Honor, Courage, and Commitment, to press on and serve a nation that in many instances didnt respect or honor that service. They opened the door so that many Marines like myself could serve today. If it werent for them, the young Corporal in the following picture would never even have this uniform on, nor would he be standing with a black Sgt Major of the Marine Corps….just a little perspective.
For more info, which I obviously didnt cover, please visit the following sites: