The Montford Point Marines fought two wars, one abroad and one at home. While they fought for freedom overseas, they returned home to a nation that was separate and unequal. Breaking through racial barriers, they transformed the face of the Marine Corps
Since 1775, the United States Marine Corps has served our country in peace and war. Today, the Marine Corps still serves the nation as a force in readiness, prepared to serve whenever the nation calls. The Montford Point Marine Association (MPMA) is proud to be a thriving part of the "Marine Corps Family."
On the 25th day of June 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order No. 8802 establishing the fair employment practice that began to erase discrimination in the Armed Forces. A board headed by Brigadier General Keller E. Rocher was organized to study the integration of African Americans being assigned to the Composite Defense Battalion, which included coastal artillery, antiaircraft, infantry and tanks.
In 1942, President Roosevelt established a presidential directive giving African Americans an opportunity to be recruited into the Marine Corps. These African Americans, from all states, were not sent to the traditional boot camps of Parris Island, South Carolina and San Diego, California. Instead, African American Marines were segregated - experiencing basic training at Montford Point - a facility at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Approximately twenty thousand (20,000) African American Marines received basic training at Montford Point between 1942 and 1949.
Twenty years after World War II, in the summer of 1965, an enterprising group of Marine veterans residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania formulated and developed plans to hold a national reunion of the Montford Pointers. Among them was the late Civil Rights Leader, Attorney Cecil B. Moore.
From September 17th - 18th, 1965, over four hundred former and active duty Marines, representing seventeen States attended the reunion held in the Adelphia Hotel in downtown Philadelphia. The great response led to the establishment of the Montford Point Marine Association, a non-profit veteran organization chartered in Philadelphia. Subsequent charters were immediately organized in more than eleven additional cities. Today the Association proudly boasts 33 active Chapters.
Approximately 20,000 African American recruits received training at Montford Point Camp (less than 10% of the Marine Corps end strength) during World War II. The initial intent of the Marine Corps hierarchy was to discharge these African American Marines after the War, returning them to civilian life - leaving the Marine Corps an all-white organization. Attitudes changed and reality took hold as the war progressed. Once given the chance to prove themselves, it became impossible to deny the fact that this new breed of Marine was just as capable as all other Marines regardless of race, color, creed or National origin.
Exceptional recruits were singled out to assist in the training of their own platoons. Mortimer A. Cox, Arnold R. Bostick, Edgar R. Davis, Jr., Gilbert H. "Hashmark" Johnson and Edgar R. Huff were selected for their leadership' and maturity and became the First Black Drill Instructors. These first DI's would join the staff to reinforce the training mission at Montford Point which was to develop African American Marines for support roles in the Corps, following their graduation.
In July of 1948 President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order #9981 negating segregation. In September of 1949, Montford Marine Camp was deactivated - ending seven years of segregation.
On April 19, 1974, Montford Point Camp was renamed Camp Johnson, in honor of the late Sergeant Major, Gilbert H. "Hashmark" Johnson. Johnson was one of the first African American's to join the Corps, a Distinguished Montford Point Drill Instructor and a Veteran of WWII and Korea. The Camp remains the only Marine Corps installation named in honor of an African American.
Visit the Historic Reading Room (building M-100) aboard Camp Johnson to learn more about the Montford Point legacy and feel the presence of this special breed of Marine.
Reaffirming Policy Of Full Participation In The Defense Program By All Persons, Regardless Of Race, Creed, Color, Or National Origin, And Directing Certain Action In Furtherance Of Said Policy
June 25, 1941
WHEREAS it is the policy of the United States to encourage full participation in the national defense program by all citizens of the United States, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin, in the firm belief that the democratic way of life within the Nation can be defended successfully only with the help and support of all groups within its borders; and
WHEREAS there is evidence that available and needed workers have been barred from employment in industries engaged in defense production solely because of considerations of race, creed, color, or national origin, to the detriment of workers' morale and of national unity:
NOW, THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the Statutes, and as a prerequisite to the successful conduct of our national defense production effort, I do hereby reaffirm the policy of the United States that there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government declare that it is the duty of employers and of labor organizations, in furtherance of said policy and of this order, to provide for the full and equitable participation of all workers in defense industries, without discrimination because of race, creed, color, or national origin;
And it is hereby ordered as follows:
1. All departments and agencies of the Government of the United States concerned with vocational and training programs for defense that such programs are administered without discrimination because of race, creed, color, or national origin;
2. All contracting agencies of the Government of the United States shall include in all defense contracts hereafter negotiated by them a provision obligating the contractor not to discriminate against any worker because of race, creed, color, or national origin;
3. There is established in the Office of Production Management a Committee on Fair Employment Practice, which shall consist of a chairman and four other members to be appointed by the President. The Chairman and members of the Committee shall serve as such without compensation but shall be entitled to actual and necessary transportation, subsistence and other expenses incidental to performance of their duties. The Committee shall receive and investigate complaints of discrimination in violation of the provisions of this order and shall take appropriate steps to redress grievances which it finds to be valid. The Committee shall also recommend to the several departments and agencies of the Government of the United States and to the President all measures which may be deemed by it necessary or proper to effectuate the provisions of this order.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
The White House,
June 25, 1941.
Even more so than in the Army, the history of racial equality in the Marine Corps demonstrates the effect of the exigencies of war on the integration of the armed forces. The Truman order, the Fahy Committee, even the demands of civil rights leaders and the mandates of the draft law, all exerted pressure for reform and assured the presence of some black marines. But the Marine Corps was for years able to stave off the logical outcome of such pressures, and in the end it was the manpower demands of the Korean War that finally brought integration.
In the first place the Korean War caused a sudden and dramatic rise in the number of black marines: from 1,525 men, almost half of them stewards, in May 1949, to some 17,000 men, only 500 of them serving in separate stewards duty, in October 1953.1 Whereas the careful designation of a few segregated service units sufficed to handle the token black representation in 1949, no such organization was possible in 1952, when thousands of black marines on active duty constituted more than 5 percent of the total enlistment. The decision to integrate the new black marines throughout the corps was the natural outcome of the service's early experiences in Korea. Ordered to field a full division, the corps out of necessity turned to the existing black service units, among others, for men to augment the peacetime strength of its combat units. These men were assigned to any unit in the Far East that needed them. As the need for more units and replacements grew during the war, newly enlisted black marines were more and more often pressed into integrated service both in the Far East and at home.
Most significantly, the war provided a rising generation of Marine Corps officers with a first combat experience with black marines. The competence of these Negroes and the general absence of racial tension during their integration destroyed long accepted beliefs to the contrary and opened the way for general integration. Although the corps continued to place special restrictions on the employment of Negroes and was still wrestling with the problem of black stewards well into the next decade, its basic policy of segregating marines by race ended with the cancellation of the last all-black unit designation in 1951. Hastily embraced by the corps as a solution to a pressing manpower problem, integration was finally accepted as a permanent manpower policy. Impetus for Change
This transformation seemed remote in 1949 in view of Commandant Clifton B. Cates's strong defense of segregation. At the time Cates made a careful distinction between allocating men to the services without regard to race, which he supported, and ordering integration of the services themselves . "Changing national policy in this respect through the Armed Forces, " he declared, "is a dangerous path to pursue as it effects [sic] the ability of the Military Establishment to fulfill its mission. "2 Integration of the services had to follow, not precede integration of American society.
The commandant's views were spelled out in a series decisions announced by the corps in the wake of the Secretary of the Navy's call for integration of all elements of the Navy Department in 1949. On 18 November 1949 the corps' Acting Chief of Staff announce a new racial policy: individual black marines would be assigned in accordance with their specialties to vacancies "in any unit where their services can be effectively utilized," but segregated black units would be retained and new ones created when appropriate in the regular and reserve components of the corps. In the case of the reserve component, the decision on the acceptance of an applicant was vested in the unit commander. 3 On the same day the commandant made it clear that the policy was not to be interpreted too broadly. Priority for the assignment of individual black marines, Cates informed the commander of the Pacific Department, would be given to the support establishment and black officers would be assigned to black units only. 4
Further limiting the chances that black marines would be integrated, Cates approved the creation of four new black units. The Director of Personnel and the Marine Quartermaster had opposed this move on the grounds that the new units would require technical billets, particularly in the supply specialties, which would be nearly impossible to fill with available enlisted black marines. Either school standards would have to be lowered or white marines would have to be assigned to units. Cates met this objection by agreeing with the Director of Plans and Policies that no prohibition existed against racial mixing in a unit during a period of on-the-job training. The Director of Personnel would decide when a unit was sufficiently trained and properly manned to be officially designated a black organization. 5 In keeping with this arrangement, for example, the commanding general of the 2d Marine Division reported in February 1950 that his black marines were sufficiently trained to assume complete operation of the depot platoon within the division's service command. Cates then designated the platoon as a unit suitable for general duty black marines, which prompted the Coordinator of Enlisted Personnel to point out that current regulations stipulated "after a unit has been so designated, all white enlisted personnel will be withdrawn and reassigned."6
Nor were there any plans for the general integration of black reservists, although some Negroes were serving in formerly all-white units. The 9th Infantry Battalion, for instance, had a black lieutenant. As the assistant commandant, Maj. Gen. Oliver P. Smith, put it on 4 January 1950, black units would be formed "in any area where there is an expressed interest" provided that the black population was large enough to support it.7 When the NAACP objected to the creation of another all-black reserve unit in New York City as being contrary to Defense Department policy, the Marine Corps justified it on the grounds that the choice of integrated or segregated units must be made by the local community "in accord with its cultural values."8 Notwithstanding the Secretary of the Navy's integration order and assignment policies directed toward effective utilization, it appeared that the Marine Corps in early 1950 was determined to retain its system of racially segregated units indefinitely.
But the corps failed to reckon with the consequences of the war that broke out suddenly in Korea in June. Two factors connected with that conflict caused an abrupt change in Marine race policy. The first was the great influx of Negroes into the corps. Although the commandant insisted that race was not considered in recruitment, and in fact recruitment instructions since 1948; contained no reference to the race of applicants, few Negroes had joined the Marine Corps in the two years preceding the war.9 In its defense the corps pointed to its exceedingly small enlistment quotas during those years and its high enlistment standards, which together allowed recruiters to accept only a few men. The classification test average for all recruits enlisted in 1949 was 108, while the average for black enlistees during the same period was 94.7. New black recruits were almost exclusively enlisted for stewards duty.10
A revision of Defense Department manpower policy combined with the demands of the war to change all that. The imposition of a qualitative distribution of manpower by the Secretary of Defense in April 1950 meant that among the thousands of recruits enlisted during the Korean War the Marine Corps would have to accept its share of the large percentage of men in lower classification test categories. Among these men were a significant number of black enlistees who had failed to qualify under previous standards. They were joined by thousands more who were supplied through the nondiscriminatory process of the Selective Service System when, during the war, the corps began using the draft. The result was a 100 percent jump in the number of black marines in the first year of war, a figure that would be multiplied almost six times before war inductions ran down in 1953. (Table 11)
TABLE 11 - BLACK MARINES, 1949 - 1955
Percent of Corps
A second factor forcing a change in racial policy was the manpower demands imposed upon the corps by the war itself. When General MacArthur called for the deployment of a Marine regimental combat team and supporting air group on 2 July 1950, the Secretary of the Navy responded by sending the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, which included the 5th Marine Regiment, the 1st Battalion of the 11th Marines (Artillery), and Marine Air Group 33. By 13 September the 1st Marine Division and the 1st Marine Air Wing at wartime strength had been added. Fielding these forces placed an enormous strain on the corps' manpower, and one result was the assignment of a number of black service units, often combined with white units in composite organizations, to the combat units.
The pressures of battle quickly altered this neat arrangement. Theoretically, every marine was trained as an infantryman, and when shortages occurred in combat units commanders began assigning black replacements where needed. For example, as the demand for more marines for the battlefield grew, the Marine staff began to pull black marines from routine duties at the Marine Barracks in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Hawaii and send them to Korea to bring the fighting units up to full strength. The first time black servicemen were integrated as individuals in significant numbers under combat conditions was in the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade during the fighting in the Pusan Perimeter in August 1950. The assignment of large numbers of black marines throughout the combat units of the 1st Marine Division, beginning in September, provided the clearest instance of a service abandoning a social policy in response to the demands of the battlefield. The 7th Marines, for example, an organic element of the 1st Marine Division since August 1950, received into its rapidly expanding ranks, along with many recalled white reservists and men from small, miscellaneous Marine units, a 54-man black service unit. The regimental commander immediately broke up the black unit, assigning the men individually throughout his combat battalions.
That the emergency continued to influence the placement of Negroes is apparent from the distribution of black marines in March 1951, when almost half were assigned to combat duty in integrated units.ll Before the war was over, the 1st Marine Division had several thousand black marines, serving in its ranks in Korea, where they were assigned to infantry and signal units as well as to transportation and food supply organizations. One of the few black reserve officers on active duty found himself serving as an infantry platoon commander in Company B of the division's 7th Marines.
The shift to integration in Korea proved uneventful. In the words of the 7th Marines commander: "Never once did any color problem bother us.... It just wasn't any problem. We had one Negro sergeant in command of an all-white squad and there was another—with a graves registration unit—who was one of the finest Marines I've ever seen.''l2 Serving for the first time in integrated units, Negroes proceeded to perform in a way that not only won individuals decorations for valor but also won the respect of commanders for Negroes as fighting men. Reminiscing about the performance of black marines in his division, Lt. Gen. Oliver P. Smith remembered "they did everything, and they did a good job because they were integrated, and they were with good people.''l3 In making his point the division commander contrasted the performance of his integrated men with the Army's segregated 24th Infantry. The observations of field commanders, particularly the growing opinion that a connection existed between good performance and integration, were bound to affect the deliberations of the Division of Plans and Policies when it began to restudy the question of black assignments in the fall of 1951.
As a result of the division's study, the Commandant of the Marine Corps announced a general policy of racial integration on 13 December 1951, thus abolishing the system first introduced in 1942 of designating certain units in the regular forces and organized reserves as black units.l4 He spelled out the new
order in some detail on 18 December, and although his comments were addressed to the commanders in the Fleet Marine Force, they were also forwarded to various commands in the support establishment that still retained all-black units. The order indicated that the practices now so commonplace in Korea were about to become the rule in the United States. 15 Some six months later the commandant informed the Chief of Naval Personnel that the Marine Corps had no segregated units and while integration had been gradual "it was believed to be an accomplished fact at this time. " 16
MARINES ON THE KANSAS LINE. Men of the 1st Marines await word to move out. [Photograph not included.]
The change was almost immediately apparent in other parts of the corps, for black marines were also integrated in units serving with the fleet. Reporting on a Mediterranean tour of the 3d Battalion, 6th Marines (Reinforced), from 17 April to 20 October 1952, Capt. Thomas L. Faix, a member of the unit, noted: "We have about fifteen Negro marines in the unit now, out of fifty men. We have but very little trouble and they sleep, eat and go on liberty together. It would be hard for many to believe but the thought is that here in the service all are facing a common call or summons to serve regardless of color. " 17 Finally in August 1953, Lt. Gen. Gerald C. Thomas, who framed the postwar segregation policy, announced that "integration of Negroes in the Corps is here to stay. Colored boys are in almost every military occupation specialty and certainly in every enlisted rank. I believe integration is satisfactory to them, and it is satisfactory to us. "18
MARINE REINFORCEMENTS. A light machine gun squad of 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, arrives during the Battle for "Boulder City. " [Photograph not included.]
The 1951 integration order ushered in a new era in the long history of the Marine Corps, but despite the abolition of segregated units, the new policy did not bring about completely unrestricted employment of Negroes throughout the corps. The commandant had retained the option to employ black marines "where their services can be effectively utilized," and in the years after the Korean War it became apparent that the corps recognized definite limits to the kinds of duty to which black marines could be assigned. Following standard assignment procedures, the Department of Personnel's Detail Branch selected individual staff noncommissioned officers for specific duty billets. After screening the records of a marine and considering his race, the branch could reject the assignment of a Negro to a billet for any reason "of overriding interest to the Marine Corps.''l9
By the same token, the assignment of marines in the lower ranks was left to the individual commands, which filled quotas established by headquarters. Commanders usually filled the quotas from among eligible men longest on station, but whether or not Negroes were included in a transfer quota was left entirely to the discretion of the local commander. The Department of Personnel a. reserved the right, however, to make one racial distinction in regard to bulk quotas: it regulated the number of black marines it took from recruit depots as replacements, as insurance against a "disproportionate" number of Negroes in combat units. Under the screening procedures of Marine headquarters and unit commanders, black enlisted men were excluded from assignment to reserve officer training units, recruiting stations, the State Department for duty at embassies and legations, and certain special duties of the Department of Defense and the Navy Department.20
For the service to reserve the right to restrict the assignment of Negroes when it was of "overriding interest to the Marine Corps" was perhaps understandable, but it was also susceptible to considerable misinterpretation if not outright abuse. The Personnel Department was "constantly" receiving requests from commanders that no black noncoms be assigned to their units. While some of these requests seemed reasonable, the chief of the division's Detail Branch noted, others were not. Commanders of naval prison retraining centers did not want black noncommissioned officers assigned because, they claimed, Negroes caused unrest among the prisoners. The Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., where the commandant lived, did not want black marines because of the ceremonial nature of its mission. The Marine Barracks at Dahlgren, Virginia, did not want Negroes because conflicts might arise with civilian employees in cafeterias and movies. Other commanders questioned the desirability of assigning black marines to the Naval Academy, to inspector-instructor billets in the clerical and supply fields, and to billets for staff chauffeurs. The Detail Branch wanted a specific directive that listed commands to which black marines should not be assigned.2l
Restrictions on the assignment of black marines were never codified, but the justification for them changed. In place of the "overriding interest to the Marine Corps" clause, the corps began to speak of restrictions "solely for the welfare of the individual Marine." In 1955 the Director of Personnel, Maj. Gen. Robert O. Bare, pointed to the unusually severe hardships imposed on Negroes in some communities where the attitude toward black marines sometimes interfered with their performance of duty. Since civilian pressures could not be officially recognized, Bare reasoned, they had to be dealt with informally on a person-to-person basis.22 By this statement he meant the Marine Corps would informally exclude Negroes from certain assignments. Of course no one explained how barring Negroes from assignment to recruitment, inspector instructor, embassy, or even chauffeur duty worked for "the welfare of the individual Marine." Such an explanation was just what Congressman Powell was demanding in January 1958 when he asked why black marines were excluded from assignments to the American Embassy in Paris.23
Community attitudes toward Negroes in uniform had become a serious matter in all the services by the late 1950's, and concern for the welfare of black marines was repeatedly voiced by Marine commanders in areas as far-flung as Nevada, Florida, and southern California.24 But even here there was reason to question the motives of some local commanders, for during a lengthy discussion in the Personnel Department some officials asserted that the available evidence indicated no justification for restricting assignments. Anxiety over assignments anywhere in the United States was unfounded, they claimed, and offered in support statistics demonstrating the existence of a substantial black community in all the duty areas from which Negroes were unofficially excluded. The Assignment and Classification Branch also pointed out that the corps had experienced no problems in the case of the thirteen black marines then assigned to inspector-instructor duty, including one in Mobile, Alabama. The branch went on to discuss the possibility of assigning black marines to recruiting duty. Since recruiters were assigned to areas where they understood local attitudes and customs, some officials reasoned, Negroes should be used to promote the corps among potential black enlistees whose feelings and attitudes were not likely to be understood by white recruiters.
These matters were never considered officially by the Marine Corps staff, and as of 1960 the Inspector General was still keeping a list of stations to which Negroes would not be assigned. But the picture quickly changed in the next year, and by June 1962 all restrictions on the assignment of black marines had been dropped with the exception of several installations in the United States where off-base housing was unavailable and some posts overseas where the use of black marines was limited because of the attitudes of foreign governments.25
The perennial problem of an all-black Steward's Branch persisted into the 1960's. Stewards served a necessary though unglamorous function in the Marine Corps, and education standards for such duty were considerably lower than those for the rest of the service. Everyone understood this, and beyond the stigma many young people felt was attached to such duties, many Negroes particularly resented the fact that while the branch was officially open to all, somehow none of the less gifted whites ever joined. Stewards were acquired either by recruiting new marines with stewards duty-only contracts or by accepting volunteers from the general service. The evidence suggests that there was truth in the commonly held assumption among stewards that when a need for more stewards arose "volunteers" were secured by tampering with the classification test scores of men in the general service.
TRAINING EXERCISES on Iwo Jima, March 1954. [Photograph not included.]
The commandant seemed less concerned with methods than results when stewards were needed. In June 1950 he had reaffirmed the policy of allowing stewards to reenlist for general duty, but when he learned that some stewards had made the jump to general duty without being qualified, he announced that men who had signed contracts for stewards duty only were not acceptable for general duty unless they scored at least in the 31st percentile of the qualifying tests. To make the change to general duty even less attractive, he ruled that if a steward reenlisted for general duty he would have to revert to the rank of private, first class.27 Such measures did nothing to improve the morale of black stewards, many of whom, according to civil rights critics, felt confined forever to performing menial tasks, nor did it prevent constant shortages in the Steward's Branch and problems arising from the lack of men with training in modern mess management.
The corps tried to attack these problems in the mid-1950's. At the behest of the Secretary of the Navy it eliminated the stewards-duty-only contract in 1954; henceforth all marines were enlisted for general duty, and only after recruit training could volunteers sign up for stewards duty. Acceptance of men scoring below ninety in the classification tests would be limited to 40 percent of those volunteering each month for stewards duty.28 The corps also instituted special training in modern mess management for stewards. In 1953 the Quartermaster General had created an inspection and demonstration team composed of senior stewards to instruct members of the branch in the latest techniques of cooking and baking, supervision, and management. 29 In August 1954 the commandant established an advanced twelve-week course for stewards based on the Navy's successful system.
MARINES FROM CAMP LEJEUNE ON THE USS VALLEY FORGE for training exercises, 1958. [Photograph not included.]
These measures, however, did nothing to cure the chronic shortage of men and the attendant problems of increased work load and low morale that continued to plague the Steward's Branch throughout the 1950's. Consequently, the corps still found it difficult to attract enough black volunteers to the branch. In 1959, for example, the branch was still 8 percent short of its 826-man goal.30 The obvious solution, to use white volunteers for messman duty, would be a radical departure from tradition. True, before World War II white marines had been used in the Marine Corps for duties now performed by black stewards, but they had never been members of a branch organized exclusively for that purpose. In 1956 tradition was broken when white volunteers were quietly signed up for the branch. By March 1961 the branch had eighty white men, 10 percent of its total. Reviewing the situation later that year, the commandant decided to increase the number of white stewards by setting a racial quota on steward assignment. Henceforth, he ordered half the volunteers accepted for stewards duty would be white. 31
COLONEL PETERSEN(1968 photograph).
The new policy made an immediate difference. In less than two months the Steward's Branch was 20 percent white. In marked contrast to the claims of Navy recruiters, the marines reported no difficulty in attracting white volunteers for messman duties. Curiously the volunteers came mostly from the southeastern states. As the racial composition of the Steward's Branch changed, the morale of its black members seemed to improve. As one senior black warrant officer later explained, simply opening stewards duty to whites made such duty acceptable to many Negroes who had been prone to ask "if it [stewards duty] was so good, why don't you have some of the whites in it."32 When transfer to general service assignments became easy to obtain in the 1960's, the Marine Corps found that only a small percentage of the black stewards now wished to make the change.
There were still inequities in the status of black marines, especially the near absence of black officers (two on active duty in 1950, nineteen in January 1955) its the relatively slow rate of promotion among black marines in general. The corps had always justified its figures on the grounds that competition in so small a service was extremely fierce, and, as the commandant explained to Walter White In 1951, a man had to be good to compete and outstanding to be promoted. He cited the 1951 selection figures for officer training: out of 2,025 . highly qualified men applying, only half were selected and only half of those were commissioned.33 Promotion to senior billets for noncommissioned officers was also highly competitive, with time in service an important factor. It was unlikely in such circumstances that many black marines would be commissioned from the ranks or a higher percentage of black noncommissioned officers would be promoted to the most senior positions during the 1950's.34 The Marine Corps had begun commissioning Negroes so recently that the development of a it group of black officers in a system of open competition was of necessity a slow and arduous task. The task was further complicated because most of the nineteen black officers on active duty in 1955 were reservists serving out tours begun in the Korean War. Only a few of them had made the successful switch from reserve to regular service. The first two were 2d Lt. Frank E. Petersen, Jr., the first black Marine pilot, and 2d Lt. Kenneth H. Berthoud, Jr., who first served as a tank officer in the 3d Marine Division. Both men would advance to high rank in the corps, Petersen becoming the first black marine general.
SERGEANT MAJOR HUFF [Photograph not included.]
As for the noncommissioned officers, there were a number of senior enlisted black marines in the 1950's, many of them holdovers from the World War II era, and Negroes were being promoted to the ranks of corporal and sergeant in appreciable numbers But the tenfold increase in the number of black marines during the Korean War caused the ratio of senior black noncommissioned officers to black marines to drop. Here again promotion to higher rank was slow. The first black marine to make the climb to the top in the integrated corps was Edgar R. Huff. A gunnery sergeant in an integrated infantry battalion in Korea, Huff later became battalion sergeant major in the 8th Marines and eventually senior sergeant major in the Marine Corps.35
By 1962 there were 13,351 black enlisted men, 7.59 percent of the corps' strength, and 34 black officers (7 captains, 25 lieutenants, and 2 warrant officers) serving in integrated units in all military occupations. These statistics illustrate the racial progress that occurred in the Marine Corps during the 1950's, a change that was both orderly and permanent, and, despite the complicated forces at work, in essence a gift to the naval establishment from the Korean battlefield.
For historical reasons, these are presented as originally passed by Congress or issued by the President. Many, but not necessarily all, of the subsequent amendments are also gathered here. For the current texts of the laws we enforce, as amended, please see Laws Enforced by the EEOC.
The Supreme Court
The various laws that govern EEOC's actions are subject to interpretation by the federal court system, and most importantly by the Supreme Court. These interpretations have at times reinforced, and at other times forced change upon, EEOC's role as a law enforcement agency.
In June 1941, on the eve of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 8802 prohibiting government contractors from engaging in employment discrimination based on race, color or national origin. This order is the first presidential action ever taken to prevent employment discrimination by private employers holding government contracts. The Executive Order applies to all defense contractors, but contains no enforcement authority. President Roosevelt signs the Executive Order primarily to ensure that there are no strikes or demonstrations disrupting the manufacture of military supplies as the country prepares for War.
In July 1948, President Harry S. Truman orders the desegregation of the Armed Forces by Executive Order 9981. The order requires that there be "equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin." America's fighting forces are actually integrated only when the Korean War begins in 1952.
In March 1961, President John F. Kennedy signs Executive Order 10925 prohibiting federal government contractors from discriminating on account of race and establishing the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. Departing from previous presidential directives, this Order grants the Committee, initially chaired by Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, authority to impose sanctions for violations of the Executive Order. President Kennedy states this enforcement authority signals a new "determination to end job discrimination once and for all."
In June 1963, Congress passes the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) protecting men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination. The EPA is the First National Civil Rights legislation focusing on employment discrimination. The Department of Labor has responsibility for enforcement until 1978.
At 7:40 on the evening of June 19, after the longest debate in its nearly 180-year history, the U.S. Senate passes the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The vote in favor of the bill is 73 to 27. Thirteen days later, on July 2, the U.S. House of Representatives passes the bill and President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the bill into law that same evening. Five hundred amendments were made to the bill and Congress has debated the bill for 534 hours.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in a broad array of private conduct including public accommodations, governmental services and education. One section of the Act, referred to as Title VII, prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion and national origin. Title VII applies to private employers, labor unions and employment agencies. The Act prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring, wages, assignment, promotions, benefits, discipline, discharge, layoffs and almost every aspect of employment.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also creates the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a five-member, Bipartisan Commission whose mission is to eliminate unlawful employment discrimination. The law provides that the Commissioners, no more than three of whom may be from the same political party, are appointed to five-year terms by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Chairman of the agency appoints the General Counsel. EEOC is to open its doors for business on July 2, 1965 -- one year after Title VII's enactment into law.
Congress passes the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protecting individuals who are between 40 and 65 years of age from discrimination in employment. The Department of Labor has enforcement responsibility. Three years earlier, Congress had voted down an amendment to Title VII to include age discrimination as an unlawful employment practice.
Working to develop close relationships with other federal agencies, EEOC enters into its first Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Labor (DOL). DOL enforces Executive Order 11246, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, which imposes nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements as a condition of doing business with the Federal Government. The two agencies agree to share information and coordinate investigations of government contractors. Additionally, when EEOC finds a violation of Title VII but is unable to secure an acceptable agreement, then EEOC will refer the charge to DOL to institute an enforcement action under the Executive Order.
In its fourth attempt to improve Title VII's effectiveness since its enactment in 1964, Congress amends Title VII by approving the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972. The report accompanying the bill states: "The time has come for Congress to correct the defects in its own legislation. The promises of equal job opportunity made in 1964 must [now] be made realities . . . ." Accordingly, the 1972 amendments are designed to give EEOC the authority to "back up" its administrative findings and to increase the jurisdiction and reach of the agency.
The amendments result in the following:
EEOC has litigation authority. If the agency cannot secure an acceptable conciliation agreement, it has the option of suing nongovernment respondents -- employers, unions, and employment agencies.
Educational institutions are subject to Title VII. Congress found that discrimination against minorities and women in the field of education was just as pervasive as discrimination in any other area of employment.
State and local governments are no longer exempt from Title VII. Removal of this exemption results in 10 million more employees being immediately added to Title VII's coverage.
The Federal Government is subject to Title VII. Federal executive agencies and defined units of the other branches must make all personnel actions free from discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion or national origin.
The number of employers covered by Title VII is increased by reducing the number of employees (from 25 to 15) needed for an employer to be covered by the Act.
Charging parties have a longer period of time to file their charges, 180 or 300 days rather than 90 or 210 days. Additionally, charging parties now have 90 days rather than 30 days to file a lawsuit after EEOC has informed them that it is no longer working on their charge. This extension of time affords charging parties a better chance to find a lawyer if they wish to pursue their charges in court.
As a result of the 1972 Amendments, the President, rather than the EEOC Chairman, selects the agency's General Counsel. President Richard M. Nixon nominates and the Senate confirms William Carey to be the EEOC General Counsel.
Congress passes the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 501 prohibits the Federal Government as an employer from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities. EEOC is now responsible for enforcement of Section 501. The Act proves to be the model for Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of disability by private employers.
Congress amends Title VII by passing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 to make clear that discrimination based on pregnancy is unlawful sex discrimination. This legislation reverses the Supreme Court's Gilbert decision.
The 1978 amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 make the processes for federal employees' claims of discrimination on the basis of disability and the available remedies virtually identical to federal sector Title VII processes and remedies.
The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 abolishes the U.S. Civil Service Commission and distributes its functions primarily among three agencies: (1) the newly established Office of Personnel Management; (2) the Merit Systems Protection Board; and (3) EEOC. EEOC assumes responsibility for enforcing anti-discrimination laws applicable to the civilian federal workforce as well as coordinating all federal equal employment opportunity programs.
Seventeen federal agencies and departments are responsible for enforcing 40 different non-discrimination statutes and Executive orders. To eliminate duplication and conflict, President Jimmy Carter signs Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1978 making EEOC responsible for coordinating all federal equal employment opportunity programs. Only three federal agencies, EEOC, the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs are left with significant EEO responsibility. Responsibility for enforcing the Equal Pay Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act is transferred from the Department of Labor to EEOC.
President Jimmy Carter signs Executive Order 12067 abolishing the Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinating Council and transferring its responsibilities to EEOC. EEOC now has lead responsibility for giving direction to the government's equal employment opportunity efforts by developing uniform enforcement standards to apply throughout government, including standardized data collection and data sharing, joint training programs and investigations and consistent policies.
Congress approves eliminating the upper age cap of 70 from the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Congress also exempts through December 31, 1993, state and local governments when hiring or retiring firefighters or law enforcement officials from age limitations provided those limitations were in effect in March 1983. Congress also provides that colleges and universities through 1993, may involuntarily retire professors at age 70, if the professor is serving under contracts of unlimited tenure.
Congress passes the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) which amends the Immigration and Nationality Act. IRCA states that employers can be sanctioned and fined for hiring illegal aliens. One section of IRCA complements Title VII by prohibiting employers with four to 14 employees from discriminating on the basis of national origin and also prohibits citizenship discrimination.
Congress passes the Age Discrimination Claims Assistance Act of 1988 (ADCAA) thereby reinstating the rights of Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) charging parties to file a private lawsuit beyond the two or three year statute of limitations for an additional 540 days (18 months). This Congressional extension permits EEOC to complete the administrative processing of backlogged ADEA charges while the charging party retains his or her right to file a lawsuit.
In July, President George Bush signs into law the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) -- the world's first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities. The Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment (Title I), in public services (Title II), in public accommodations (Title III) and in telecommunications (Title IV). EEOC is responsible for enforcing Title I's prohibition against discrimination against people with disabilities in employment. Title I does not become effective until two years after the President signs the bill (July 26, 1992). The ADA is described as the Emancipation Proclamation for the disability community.
In October, Congress passes the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA) overruling the Supreme Court's 1989 decision in Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio v. Betts. Betts held that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) does not forbid age discrimination in employee benefits except in rare circumstances. The OWBPA amends the ADEA to prohibit age discrimination in employee benefits and also establishes minimum standards for an employee's voluntary waiver of an ADEA claim.
Congress passes the Age Discrimination Claims Assistance Amendments of 1990 (ADCAA II) providing Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) charging parties an additional 450 days in which to file their own private ADEA lawsuits. This Act permits EEOC to process the remaining backlog of age discrimination charges while preserving the rights of charging parties to later bring their own lawsuits.
Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (CRA) thereby overruling several Supreme Court decisions rendered in the late 1980s that had made it more difficult for plaintiffs to prevail in their employment discrimination suits and to recover fees and costs when they won their lawsuits. The CRA amends procedurally and substantively Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The amendments provide for the first time that the parties can request jury trials and that successful plaintiffs can recover compensatory and punitive damages in intentional employment discrimination cases. The CRA also expands Title VII's protections to include Congressional and high level political appointees and eliminates the two and three year statute of limitations period for filing private lawsuits under the ADEA.
Congress passes the EEOC Education, Technical Assistance and Training Revolving Fund Act of 1992 enabling EEOC to provide technical assistance and materials to stakeholders. The fund is supported from payments received from the recipients of EEOC training.
Congress passes the Age Discrimination in Employment Amendments of 1996 which permanently reinstate an exemption that permits state and local governments to use age as a basis for hiring and retiring law enforcement officers and firefighters.
The Higher Education Amendments of 1998 are enacted amending the Age Discrimination in Employment Act to permit colleges and universities to offer special age-based retirement incentives for tenured faculty members at institutions of higher education; this amendment replaces the former temporary exemptions which permitted colleges and universities to mandatorily retire tenured faculty members at age 65 and later at age 70.
In February, President Bill Clinton signs Executive Order 13145 prohibiting federal departments and agencies from making employment decisions based on protected genetic information. In issuing the first Executive Order of the 21st Century, the President states that he hoped the action would "set an example and pose a challenge for every employer in America" to adopt a policy not to discriminate on the basis of protected genetic information "because . . . no employer should ever review your genetic records along with your resume." The Executive Order assigns to EEOC the responsibility for coordinating the policy with federal departments and agencies.
The Montford Point Camp No. 1 Historic District helps document the training of all African-American Marines during World War II. Completed in mid-August 1942 following the specifications for battalion units, Montford Point Camp No. 1 functioned as the principal boot camp training facility for the Marines’ first African-American recruits. The camp originally featured six enlisted washrooms, a mess hall, an administration building, a dispensary, a recreation building, a post exchange, two warehouses, and a heating plant, all of frame construction, that surrounded 108 portable homosote huts. The institution of the draft created a large influx of recruits, and the Montford Point camp became the Recruit Depot for mustering African-American troops, which required substantial enlargement of the camp in terms of organization and physical plant. New buildings constructed of tile block with stucco veneers were built along the west side of Montford Landing Road by mid-1943, which included the Marines’ typical regimental post buildings found throughout Camp Lejeune, including a larger administration building, an infirmary, a hostess house, a brig, a post theater, classroom buildings, and gun sheds. Late in 1943 a training pool was also erected at Montford Point in order to provide swimming training for African-American recruits.
Reflecting these significant themes providing African-American Marines with the skills and instruction necessary for conducting war, the Montford Point Camp No. 1 Historic District is eligible for the National Register as a “Training Unit” within the historic context “The Black Marine Training Experience, Montford Point.” Built between 1942 and 1943 in order to house and provide the Marines’ first African-American enlistees with boot camp training, the Montford Point Camp No. 1 Historic District meets National Register significance criteria for its association with Camp Lejeune’s principal mission, the training of personnel, and for its association with the training of the first African-American Marines. As a result of Camp No. 1’s establishment as the Montford Point Recruit Depot, a full range of regimental post administrative and support buildings was erected. Reflecting and reinforcing the hierarchical organizational structure of personnel into clearly defined military groups, the Montford Point Camp No. 1 Historic District is also significant as a distinctive built environment reflecting and reinforcing military organization and hierarchy.
In response to the rapid mobilization demanded by World War II, the Marine Corps erected camps for advanced or secondary training in addition to recruit training. Considered temporary installations, camps typically featured less substantial, temporary structures, such as canvas tents, fiberboard huts, steel Quonsets, or one- or two-story wood-frame buildings. At the Montford Point Camps Nos. 2 and 2A, one of a series of camps erected at Montford Point to house and train new African-American recruits and post-boot camp trainees following a policy of strict segregation, the Marine Corps utilized semipermanent, clay tile block construction. The camps followed the composition of the battalion training unit, similar to the regimental units at Hadnot Point, which in its most elemental form consisted of barracks and an associated mess hall. At Montford Point Camps Nos. 2 and 2A, the barracks consisted of individual platoon buildings. Marines undergoing training at Camp No. 2 as part of the Messman’s Branch occupied platoon barracks along Company Street West; ammunition and depot company trainees were housed in the barracks located along Company Street East. White officersand special enlisted personnel were accommodated in the adjacent Camp No. 2A. The camps also possessed battalion administrative and support facilities, including a headquarters, a post exchange, warehouses, an officers’ mess, an enlisted mess, and segregated washroom facilities. Physically separate from the main Hadnot Point area, Montford Point was chosen by Marine officials for the training and housing of African-American recruits in order to maintain more easily the strict segregation of white andAfrican-American Marines require at that time and to limit potential for racial disturbances.
Documenting these significant historical themes related to the “Training Unit” within the historic context “The Black Marine Training Experience, Montford Point,” the Montford Point Camps Nos. 2 and 2A Historic District is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Built between 1942 and 1943 in order to house and train the Marine Corps’ first African-American enlistees for the Fifty-first and Fifty-second Composite Defense Battalions, as well as 63 combat-support companies, the Montford Point Camps Nos. 2 and 2A relate directly to the Marine Corps’ primary mission during World War II, providing Marines with the skills and instruction necessary for conducting war. The Camps are also directly associated with the recruitment and training of the first African-Americans to enter the Marine Corps. In addition, the Camps reflect the hierarchical organizational structure of the battalion-group training unit composed of barracks, mess halls, warehouses, and associated administration and support structures. Established in response to the Marines’ policy of providing identical but separate facilities for white and black recruits, the Montford Point Camps Nos. 2 and 2A Historic District is also eligible for the National Register as a distinctive built environment reflecting and reinforcing military organization and hierarchy.