Black Colonel Finally Being Promoted By Marine Corps After Being Passed Over Three Times
A Black Marine Corps colonel is finally being promoted to brigadier general after being passed over three times.
Col. Anthony Henderson, 53, had been passed more than three times for the one-star general rank, despite a glowing record, tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, inimitable combat experience and near-universal praise from everyone in the Marines.
While it’s easy to dance around the reason, it’s down to the corps’ resistance to allowing a Black person take on a senior leadership role, ingrained ever since it was the last military service in the country to recruit African Americans in 1942.
It’s been nearly 80 years, and only 25 Black people have made it to the rank of general in any form. Six have reached lieutenant general, equating to three stars. But none have ever made it to the top four-star rank.
With Henderson’s long-awaited promotion, if confirmed by the Senate, he would have a firm chance of ascending the military ladder all the way to the top – particularly as he has combat experience generally prized by those deciding the four-star ranks.
The list of nine colonels becoming brigadier generals was signed by Joe Biden and arrived at the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, March 3, where the confirmation process begun. It also includes another Black colonel – Ahmed T. Williamson, the military assistant to the assistant commandant of the Marines.
Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey, who was the first Black man to command the First Marine Division between 2011 and 2013, told The New York Times, ‘Tony Henderson has the potential to be the commandant of the Marine Corps. He’s an individual who will work above and beyond what is required. This is well overdue.’
When prospects of a promotion came around last year, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer issued a handwritten recommendation for Henderson, writing, ‘Eminently qualified Marine we need now as BG.’
Milton D. Whitfield Sr., a retired gunnery sergeant who served for 21 years in the Marines, told the publication, ‘Tony Henderson should have gotten selected last year. 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.’
Henderson is known for being a ‘straight-shooter’ who refuses to sugar-coat what he thinks to court favour with higher-ranking white officials. However, a damning investigation by The New York Times is said to have sparked further conversations and movement behind his promotion, illuminating his deserving record over the service’s racism.
Col. Thomas Hobbs, who’s retired from the Marines, said Black senior officers ‘have to adjust themselves in a way that’s non-threatening to whites… Tony doesn’t do that. He’s just a proud Black guy’.
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