On June 25, 1941, FDR's executive order 8802 allowed, among other things, black men to become U.S. Marines for the first time in American history. The U.S. was then rigidly segregated, particularly in the South and in southerner-heavy institutions, including the military, especially the Marine Corps. The marine commander established training for blacks at Montford Point, North Carolina, and from 1942 to 1949, when the camp closed after President Truman desegregated all the armed forces, it trained more than 20,000 men, most for the Pacific theater. McLaurin interviewed 61 veterans of Montford Point and relays their words on who they were, why they joined, how they trained, and the combat they saw (many served in Korea and Vietnam, too). They reflect never-ending struggles with the deliberate and unconscious bigotry of the time and place. The Marine Corps is fully integrated now, and the marines of Montford Point aren't familiar now to the general public. Several Point trainees wrote memoirs, and with them McLaurin adds invaluably to the literature on blacks in the military. Roland GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"A quick but inspirational read."
Journal of America's Military Past
"Beautifully collected interviews. . . . Anyone interested in any aspect of the civil rights struggle or the history of race relations in the US must read this book. . . . Essential."
"A valuable contribution to our understanding of the black military experience in World War II."
North Carolina Historical Review
"An important contribution to military and civil rights history. . . . [he Marines of Montford Point: America's First Black Marines
] is a set of excerpts [of interviews] which, in Studs Terkel fashion, create an oral history of this group of Marines."
Durham Sunday Herald-Sun
"Eloquent, unedited stories."