The Marines of Montford Point: America's First Black Marines

The Marines of Montford Point: America's First Black Marines

The Marines of Montford Point: America's First Black Marines

The Marines of Montford Point: America's First Black Marines

Synopsis

With an executive order from President Franklin Roosevelt in 1941, the United States Marine Corps--the last all-white branch of the U.S. military--was forced to begin recruiting and enlisting African Americans. The first black recruits received basic training at the segregated Camp Montford Point, adjacent to Camp Lejeune, near Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Excerpt

This project began with a chance conversation in the spring of 1999 with Dr. Clarence Willie, Lieutenant Colonel, Retired, United States Marine Corps. After his career in the Marine Corps, Willie obtained a doctorate in education and, in 1999, was serving as assistant superintendent of schools in Brunswick County in southeastern North Carolina. A member of the history faculty at the University of North Carolina Wilmington who specialized in the American South and race relations, I was at the time associate vice chancellor for academic affairs. Willie asked me if I knew about the Montford Point Marines, and I responded that I was vaguely aware of them. Telling me that he had known several legendary Montford Point drill sergeants, Willie began to talk of his dream of bringing the Montford Point story to a larger audience.

As we talked, we realized that a number of circumstances might make a video documentary project possible. Willie had access to the Montford Point Marines Association, originally established as an organization for Marines who trained at Montford Point from 1942 until 1949, but now open to all active-duty military personnel and all honorably discharged veterans. The Montford Point Marines Museum, an arm of the association, is located at the site of the original Camp Montford Point on Camp Lejeune, forty miles up the road from Wilmington at Jacksonville. Both Jacksonville and Wilmington have active Montford Point Marines Association chapters, which meant that we could quickly identify interview subjects. The UNC Wilmington history department had established contact with Finney Greggs, First Sergeant, Retired, a Vietnam era career Marine who served as the extraordinarily cooperative volunteer director of the museum. The university had a professionally staffed television studio that had produced several documentaries. I knew the history of the segregated South, knew the resources of the university, and could speak to university administrators about at least beginning to record the story of the men who trained at Montford Point. All we had to do was coordinate the effort among the various institutions and obtain funding.

Throughout the project, the UNC Wilmington team worked closely with Greggs and the Montford Point Marines Museum. Greggs developed a list of Montford Point veterans in North Carolina and arranged to transport them to the UNC Wilmington Television studio for taping. He also arranged for a . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.