The Montford Point Marines have been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, 70 years after becoming the first black Marine unit to serve in the Pacific in World War 2. The award, America’s highest civilian honour, passed the US Senate 422-0 a couple of weeks ago.
It was back in 1941 that President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered that America’s armed forces could no longer reject applicants on the basis of race. Recruiting for the Montford Point Marines began in June 1942, with thousands of African Americans applying and a quota of just over 1,000 eventually selected.
Aroun 20,000 men trained at Montford Point before President Harry S. Truman signed a bill ordering the end of segregation in the armed forces. Today, the Montford Point Marine Association keeps the memory of the group alive.