Did you know Montford Point Marines were an all-voluntary force of African-American men who enlisted in the still-segregated United States Marine Corps? President Franklin Roosevelt signed legislation in 1942 that allowed African American men to enlist, and in the World War II era the Montford Point Marines were crucial to the success of the United States’ combat efforts. These African-American Marines voluntarily enlisted and completed Recruit Training at Montford Point North Carolina – instead of at Parris Island, South Carolina or Camp Pendleton, California where the rest of the Corps completed recruit training. Although President Roosevelt’s law originally intended African American Marines to be discharged after World War II ended, President Harry Truman signed legislation 1949 – four years after the end of World War II – that officially ended segregation.
Despite the segregation and racism facing the Montford Point Marines, they made up nearly 10% of the Corps’ World War II fighting force and played an integral role in both the end of World War II, and in the United States’ path to desegregating our Armed Forces. Today we recognize the bravery and sacrifices of these first African-American Marines.
Montford Point was eventually re-named Camp Johnson and to this day is the only United States Marine Corps instillation named for an African-American’s contribution to the United States Marine Corps legacy. The National Montford Point Marine Association, Inc. (NMPMA) is the national non-profit veterans organization created, “To promote and preserve the strong bonds of friendship born from shared adversities and to devote ourselves to the furtherance of these accomplishments to ensure more peaceful times.” (“History,” 2017).
Remember, our student veterans and military-connected students are not only part of the modern day tapestry of military service, but also share in the defining historical, cultural, and soci-economic impacts of those men and women who paved the way before the modern military known today.
National Montford Point Marine Association, Inc. (2017). History. Retrieved from http://www.montfordpointmarines.org/history/