Since its official birth date, November 10, 1775, the United States Marine Corps has passionately and powerfully defended our nation’s interests on land and sea, and successfully protected the lives, property, and generic well being of its citizens as part of the United States Armed Forces. As the primary purpose and drive, the U.S. Marine Corps maintains Fleet Marine Forces of combined air and ground units to seize and defend advanced Naval bases, and for land operations that are carried out as part of a naval campaign. It develops the tactics, techniques, and equipment for amphibious landing operations. The orps provides detachments for service aboard warships and for the protection of naval bases and stations. It guards U.S. embassies, legations, and consulates in countries abroad. The corps also guards the White House, the annual presidential retreat at Camp David, as well as the U.S. Naval Academy. The Marine Corps also performs other duties as directed by the president, who ranks as the Commander in Chief.
Present day, the Marine Corps is a completely desegregated military force, compiled of men and women of many races, various sexual orientations, and ages. In fiscal 2007, which ended September 30, blacks made up 10.9 percent of Marine recruits, up from 7.8 percent in 2006, the smallest proportion of black recruits for the Corps since the all-volunteer force began 33 years ago. Today, black men and women constitute almost one-fifth of their strength. However, as early as the Revolutionary war there have been scores of regulations and occurrences preventing and thus finally allowing the enlistment of blacks into the Marines. It wasn’t until 1941, that the very first steps toward ending segregation in the armed forces were taken.
Just as every single struggle that blacks in the United States have fought for justice against, the Marine Corps is no different struggle. The Marine Corps was the last branch of the Armed Forces to allow the enlistment of blacks, yet these people still found themselves facing prejudice aimed at them from many angles. Almost ironically, with the newly instituted independence, the racial ideology and economic realities of slavery prevented the new nation from fully redeeming its supposed promises of equality and freedom. The Constitution of the United States, ratified in 1789, protected the institution of slavery, and prejudice against blacks was widespread even within the states that had rejected slavery. This prejudice was written into federal military policy when, in 1792, Congress limited service in state militias to “free able bodied white male citizens.” Then, six years later, in 1798 that the secretary of war officially declared that “no Negro, Mulatto, or Indian” could enlist in the United States Navy or Marines (McLaurin). It is probable that more blacks served as Marines in the Revolution who were not identified as such in the rolls (Shaw). Throughout World War I, the Marine Corps refused, as it had since the Revolution, to enlist blacks. It wasn’t until June 25, 1941 that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 or the Fair Employment Practices Commission, which forbade governmental agencies or firms receiving government contracts from discriminating “in the employment of workers in defense industries or Government because of race, creed, color, or national origin” (McLaurin). This order directly affected the Marine Corps which was the only branch of the United States military that still excluded blacks despite many demands from other branches, such as the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox who insisted that the Marines take a thousand black recruits per month. Secretary Knox's statement was followed on May 20 by an announcement from the Navy Department that on June 1 the Navy would begin recruiting 1,000 blacks a month for shore and high seas service and that during June and July a complete battalion of 900 blacks would be formed by the Marine Corps (Shaw)....
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