Recognizing 233 Years Of Black Marines
(February 13, 2010)
Sgt. Togai Y. Andrews,
administrative law noncommissioned officer in
charge, Marine Corps Installations West, Camp
Pendleton, renders honors to the American flag
with a salute, at bldg. 1160, Feb. 10. As the
United States celebrates February as Black
History Month, the Marine Corps recognize the
many African-Americans who served as Marines.
||MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.
(2/10/2010) — The United States celebrates
February as Black History Month by recognizing
the many contributions made by African-Americans
Although blacks were brought to America as
slaves, many African-Americans contributed to
the foundation of American society. One of the
most prestigious contributions included serving
“We didn't learn much about black history
growing up,” said Maj. Gen. Anthony L. Jackson,
Marine Corps Installations West commanding
general. “But, we did learn how slaves help to
Although the Marine Corps would not officially
accept African-Americans until World War II, a
few documented blacks did serve as Marines on
land and aboard ships
during the American Revolution, according to the
book, “African-Americans in the Revolutionary
War” by Army Lt. Col. Michael Lee Lanning.
A total of 13 veterans from that era are identified on the Marine Corps' roster
as black. |
At least one black Marine by the name of John Martin died in action, aboard the
brig Reprisal in 1777.
Martin was a slave who was recruited into the Continental service without his
owner's knowledge in April 1776, according to an article in the “Black
After America earned its independence, it would be more than 150 years before
backs were officially allowed to join the Corps.
The country was still segregated during that time. Therefore, the first official
black Marines trained separate from other recruits at Montford Point Camp, N.C.,
from 1942 until President Truman signed an executive order to force full
integration of the United States in 1949. A total of 20,000 blacks trained at
Today, African-Americans represent approximately 11 percent of the Marine Corps,
according to a recent demographic profile of the U. S. military.
The U.S. Census Bureau most recent report shows that 12.8 percent of the U.S.
population is made up of black Americans. Therefore, African-Americans are well
represented in the Corps today.
“Over the time I have served, I've been able to witness the Marine Corps
diversify, especially in the senior enlisted ranks,” said Jackson. “When I first
joined in 1975 there were no black generals.”
Today, Jackson is one of four major generals and approximately 27 percent of the
Marine Corps sergeants major are black.
“I feel proud to be part of an organization that is always striving to do the
right thing,” said Jackson, who has served 35 years.
America has made many strides towards equality; from the uncomfortable truth of
having slaves that served, to now having a black commander-in-chief.
“The creation of Black History Month helped to sensitize the whole nation that
African-Americans have a role in society,” said Jackson.
Article and photo by USMC Sgt. Michael T. Knight
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
Marine Corps News
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