A memorial to the first African Americans in the U.S. Marine Corps is going up in Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville, NC. More than 20,000 black recruits trained at Montford Point between 1942 and 1949.
"Integration was an experiment that was tried in the military," says Gina Francis.
She's president of the Montford Point Marine Association Camp Lejeune Chapter 10 Ladies Auxiliary.
"When it was determined that it worked successfully, with the likes of Montford Point Marines, the Tuskeegee Airmen, then it was decided that integration would spill into the civilian communities: public schools, libraries and so forth."
Francis says her father was one of the men who trained at Montford Point. A fundraiser is underway to pay for construction on a memorial, which will include a statue of a black marine, a wall of gold stars representing recruits.