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  • 22 Mar 2021 11:15 PM | Tammy Williamson (Administrator)

    Virtually—February 27, 2021 The National Montford Point Marine Association, Inc.  NC Triad-Triangle Chapter 38 & Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission of Durham presents “All Service Has Purpose “ Essay Contest. It was well represented by different veteran nonprofit organizations along with several highlighted events such as the guest speaker Lieutenant General Walter Gaskin USMC (Ret) Secretary, NC Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, special appearance from The Honorable  Theodore Britton Jr. who is a Montford Point Marine and also served as a Ambassador to Barbados and Grenada . Mr. Adam Watkins of East Chapel Hill School did a wonderful rendition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speech, 14 year old singing sensation Keedron Bryant of Florida, who became popular singing the song “I just wanna live”.

     Adio Oluwafunmilayo, 11th grade,  City of Medicine Academy of Durham, NC  was the first place winner and the winner of $300.00. All the contestants will receive $30 Walmart gift cards. This is her essay: All Service has Purpose

    1). What do you think he meant by that?

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived out his days helping others in various ways. When he wasn’t helping his congregation he would assist the nation. Regardless of his significant achievements, Dr. King still valued the services of everyday people. Dr. King was rarely seen without other people by his side and together, they changed the lives of African Americans and other marginalized groups in the United States. The thing is, Dr. King never decided who he would work with based on positions of power; he socialized with people from all walks of life. Dr. King used his life as an example for all mankind, and by examining his life, we can truly see what he meant when he said “All service has purpose”. All people, great and small, make important contributions to society when they help others. Because of this, we should all be eager to lend a hand wherever we can.

    2). How could that be related to your life?

    Rather than just tell you this, allow me to share a story with you:

    I met Morgan when I was 7. My mom was Morgan’s caregiver and she brought her to our home unannounced. Morgan was the first disabled person I saw face to face, so my first instinct was to run. Morgan’s reaction was nicer than mine. She smiled and laughed at me and after some convincing from my mom, I inched towards her. Morgan wasn’t as scary as I thought. She touched me gently while maintaining her smile, and I felt a connection right away. Morgan started hanging out with me and my family every day soon after.

    Morgan had down syndrome and other health issues from an accident. She needed help eating most days and she wanted to be comforted others. I started mimicking my mom as she assisted her. Caring for Morgan never felt like a chore. I loved Morgan, and even though she wasn’t able to talk, I know she loved me too.

    Morgan needed surgeries from time to time so that she could live as independent a life as possible. I had a routine for whenever Morgan would have a surgery. I would pray and wait for her to come back from the hospital and when she came back we would take things slow until she regained her strength. One day Morgan got hurt after a recent surgery. I prayed and waited for her to come back, but I never saw her again. My mom wasn’t the first person to tell me when Morgan died. Her family published her obituary in a local newspaper and I happened to get my hands on it. I lost a piece of myself that day.

    I’ve been missing Morgan for a long time, but I made peace with her death by maintaining what brought us together. The years I spent assisting Morgan were amazing and I gained so much from our relationship. Serving her made me feel whole, it gave me a purpose. Morgan’s life, along with Dr. King’s, taught me that it doesn’t matter how big or small your impact is, the things we do in life for others are always important. One day, I hope I’ll see Morgan again and meet Dr. King so I can tell them about the lives I impacted. As for now, I’ll continue to follow in Dr. King’s footsteps and change the world every chance I get.

  • 22 Mar 2021 7:33 PM | Tammy Williamson (Administrator)

    By Bryan Mims, WRAL reporter

    FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Three-quarters of a century after serving in the Marines, a North Carolina veteran is about to receive a prestigious award.

    Samuel Boyd, 93, was a member of the Montford Point Marines, the first Blacks in the Marine Corps.

    "I was floored," his son, Derrick Boyd, said of learning about his father being part of the historic group.

    A decade ago, President Barack Obama decreed that all Montford Point Marines would be awarded a collective Congressional Gold Medal.

    Samuel Boyd is expected to receive a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal this weekend.

    Blacks weren't allowed to enlist in the Marines before World War II, but President Franklin Roosevelt signed an order ending racial discrimination in the military.

    Black Marine recruits were segregated and trained at Montford Point, near Camp Lejuene.

    "They paved the way," said Derrick Boyd, who joined the Marines himself and now serves as a Fayetteville police officer.

    "My father was in the Corps, and my heart was just driven to go into the Corps," he said. "It was just something about the Corps that spoke to me, 'Hey, this is where you belong.'"

    An 18-year-old Samuel Boyd left his hometown of Belhaven and joined the Marines as the war was ending.

    "Matter of fact, the same day he went in is the same day they dropped the [atomic] bomb on Hiroshima," his son said. "He did want to serve."

    He served as a military police officer in the Pacific.

    But Samuel Boyd didn't talk much about his time in the Marines when he returned to North Carolina.

    "He was a very private man from everything I can tell. It wasn't something he wanted to talk about," said Donna Pelham, a professor at Methodist University in Fayetteville and a member of the Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Commission.

    Pelham helped Derrick Boyd get the documents together for his father's medal.

    "Most of these Marines who went through Montford Point didn't want to talk about it. It wasn't necessarily a pleasant experience for them."

    Derrick Boyd learned his father was a Montford Point Marine only after Samuel Boyd suffered a stroke two weeks ago. The son found a military identification card as he tried to get his father admitted to the North Carolina State Veterans Home in Fayetteville.

    "That was something to find out – that my pa was actually one of the ones that paved the way," Derrick Boyd said. "[That's] groundbreaking stuff, groundbreaking news."

    Between 1942 and 1949, when the military was integrated, about 20,000 Black men became Montford Point Marines. In 2016, a public memorial was dedicated to them at Camp Lejuene.

    "They made it through it, and they were glad to make it through, because they had to excel at that time. They couldn't go through and be a failure, if you will," Derrick Boyd said.

    "Pop, the day has finally come," he told his father on the phone Friday, showing him a photo of the medal as he stood outside the veterans home.

    "He needs to be honored," Pelham said. "He's a hero and a civil rights pioneer."

  • 14 Mar 2021 11:55 PM | Tammy Williamson (Administrator)

    written by Helen Cooper on March 4, 2021. The promotion could set Col. Anthony Henderson on a path to becoming the first Black four-star Marine general. Only 25 African-Americans in the Marines have reached general in any f

    WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps is promoting Col. Anthony Henderson, a combat-tested Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, to brigadier general, a move that cracks the doorway for the service to potentially promote an African-American to its most senior ranks.

    The Marine Corps, which had passed over Colonel Henderson for four years, has placed him on a highly selective list of nine colonels to be granted a coveted one star that denotes general rank status — brigadier general. The list, which was signed by President Biden, arrived Wednesday evening at the Senate Armed Services Committee, to start the required confirmation process, according to the committee’s website.

    Normally, such promotions would not garner much attention. But Colonel Henderson is a Black man with combat command experience in a service — the Marines — that has never, in its 245-year history, had a four-star officer who was not a white man. And even the one-, two- and three-star Marine Corps officer positions are predominantly white and male — particularly the ones in the combat specialties that feed the four-star ranks.

    If Colonel Henderson is confirmed by the Senate, he will become the rare Black general with a shot of getting all the way to the top.

    “Tony Henderson has the potential to be the commandant of the Marine Corps,” said retired Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey, the first Black man to command the First Marine Division, from 2011 to 2013. “He’s an individual who will work above and beyond what is required. This is well overdue.”

    Colonel Henderson’s nomination for promotion comes at a fraught time for the American military as a whole, and for the Marines in particular.

    The Pentagon, which for the first time has a Black secretary of defense, is facing a reckoning on race after the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol laid bare the deep inroads that extremist groups have made into the American military, both active duty and retired: A number of the Capitol rioters with ties to extremist groups also have ties to military service.

    This has been the case with the Marine Corps. Senior Defense Department officials who have pored over videos from the Capitol riots have noted that Marine Corps flag were among the Confederate battle flags and QAnon symbols displayed during the anti-government protests.

    One of the first things Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III did after assuming the helm of the Pentagon was to order up a service-wide “Stand Down” to address extremism in the military. The term is used in the military to refer to an issue — in the past it was safety or sexual assault or suicide — that the defense secretary decided was important enough that it needs to be addressed through discussions with troops worldwide.

    Colonel Henderson, 53, was passed over three times for brigadier general. In 2019, the Navy secretary, Richard V. Spencer, even added a handwritten recommendation to Colonel Henderson’s candidacy.

    But each time, the promotion board demurred, and instead forwarded slates made up primarily of white men.

    Current and former Marines pointed to Colonel Henderson’s tendency to speak his mind as an explanation for why he was passed over in the past, but those are traits that have not disqualified white Marine colonels. The Marine Corps’ decision to add Colonel Henderson to its list of brigadier generals followed an examination of his career by The New York Times.

    Critics of how the Marine Corps has handled its Black officers say the service has a race problem that is rooted in decades of resistance to change.

    The Marines have long cultivated a reputation as the nation’s toughest fighting force, but it remains an institution where a handful of white men command 185,000 white, African-American, Hispanic and Asian men and women.

    Since the Corps first admitted African-American troops in 1942, the last military service to do so, only 25 have obtained the rank of general in any form. Not one has made it to the top four-star rank, an honor the Marines have, so far, bestowed solely on white men — 72 of them.

    Six African-Americans reached lieutenant general, or three stars. The rest have received one or two stars, the majority in areas such as logistics and transportation and communications, specialties that, unlike combat arms, rarely lead into the most senior leadership.

    The news that Colonel Henderson, along with another Black Marine — Col. Ahmed T. Williamson, the military assistant to the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps — had made the cut for brigadier general lit up the telephone and text lines of Black Marines stationed around the world.

    The African-American Marines said they were happy for Colonel Williamson, whose background is communications, but added that they were ecstatic for Colonel Henderson because he comes from the combat arms background that can lead to four stars.

    But some also expressed anger that the pace of advancement for Black officers in the Corps has been so slow.

    “Tony Henderson should have gotten selected last year,” said Milton D. Whitfield Sr., a retired Marine gunnery sergeant who served for 21 years. “Or the year before that. Or the year before that. He is who the Marine Corps should want up there — someone who will speak truth to power.”

    Colonel Henderson declined to be interviewed for The Times article last August, and had not been reached for comment Thursday morning. His promotion has already led to some chatter among members of the Marine Corps that the attention generated by The Times article prompted a promotion process to finally approve his nomination.

    But both Black and white Marines who have worked with him say such speculation ignores one fact: Colonel Henderson, who has a law degree from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, La., and who has served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, is, in the words of Mr. Spencer, the former Navy secretary, to a 2019 promotion board, an “eminently qualified Marine we need now as BG.”

    Colonel Henderson led Marines through intense fighting in the Garmsir District known as Jugroom Fort in Afghanistan in 2008. Marines commanded by Colonel Henderson during those fierce days and nights say he stood out like an action figure.

    One story about Colonel Henderson from that time has already become the stuff of legend among the Marines who fought beside him in Garmsir.

    They recall the time that Colonel Henderson, after losing radio contact, climbed to the top of a local house to look for his Marines, drew fire from the Taliban, and did a “combat roll” flip off the roof to avoid a rocket-propelled grenade, landing on his feet on the ground. That story electrified Marines fighting in Afghanistan at the time, and has been told and retold.

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