Passed Over 3 Times, a Black Marine Colonel Is Being Promoted to General

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tags: military history, Marine Corps

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 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.


Read entire article at New York Times

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