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

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.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/04/us/politics/marine-corps-black-general.html

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