The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously yesterday to honor the Marines of Montford Point with the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor. The 20,000 black Marines of Montford Point were the first to integrate the Marine Corps, the last all-white branch of the U.S. military, after a 1941 executive order from President Franklin Roosevelt. Those first black recruits received basic training at the segregated Camp Montford Point, adjacent to Camp Lejeune, near Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Melton McLaurin captured the voices of the pioneering servicemen in The Marines of Montford Point: America’s First Black Marines. This book, in conjunction with the documentary film of the same name, draws from interviews with dozens of Montford Point veterans, who describe their reasons for enlisting, their experiences during training and combat, their lives in the segregated service and Jim Crow South, and their legacy.
McLaurin was a guest on NPR’s “All Things Considered” yesterday. You can listen to the podcast here or at the NPR website, where you can also read a transcript of the interview.
We’re glad to see Congress honor these veterans. It’s been a long time coming. We salute you, too, the Marines of Montford Point.