Butterfield Cheers Passage of Bill to Award Congressional Gold Medal to Nation's First Black Marines

Oct 25, 2011
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) today applauded the House passage of H.R. 2447, a resolution to award the Montford Marines, the first African American Marines, a Congressional Gold Medal for their service during World War II.

“This year we celebrated the life and contributions of several great African Americans, such as Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, Professor Derrick Bell and, most recently, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a memorial on the National Mall,” said Butterfield, a co-sponsor of the bill.  “It is only fitting that we also recognize the more than 19,000 African Americans that enlisted in the United States Marine Corps during a time when they themselves did not have the freedoms they fought to protect for the nation.  This bill recognizes the Montford Marines’ significant sacrifices, patriotism and invaluable contribution to American history.”

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an Executive Order establishing the Fair Employment Practices Commission, which, for the first time, allowed African Americans to enlist in the United States Marine Corps.  The first African American Marines were trained at Camp Montford Point in North Carolina and later served in World War II.