U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., voted to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the the nation’s first African-American members of the United States Marine Corps, which includes six Louisville residents.
The Montford Point Marines broke the color line in 1941, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order desegregating the Marine Corps, which was the last branch of the military to do so. At the time, more than 19,000 black marines trained at Camp Montford Point in Jacksonville, North Carolina between 1942 and 1949.
Yarmuth joined over 300 lawmakers who co-sponsored the legislation, which passed the House unanimously and bestowed the servicemen the highest civilian honor given by Congress.
“The Montford Point Marines fought to guarantee freedom around the world at a time when they were often denied those very freedoms when they returned home,” Yarmuth said in a news release. “These men served with bravery and fought relentlessly for our nation whenever called upon and I am honored to join my colleagues in recognizing their service and sacrifice.”
Six Louisvillians are among those who participated in this groundbreaking mobilization: Thomas Cork, Luther Goodwin, Clarence Hunt, Albert Jones, Willis Stanley Evans, and the late Herbert Thompson.
The Congressional Gold Medal is bestowed for an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States. It is among the highest awards, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.