The Senate, on Monday, confirmed Lieutenant General Michael E Langley as a four-star general and he made Marine history, becoming the first Black man to reach the rank. 

This confirmation comes after US President Joe Biden nominated Langley in June to head the US Africa Command, which is responsible for military operations in Africa. 

“It is a great honour to be the president’s nominee to lead USAFRICOM. I am grateful to the trust and confidence extended by him, the secretary of defence, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the commandant of the Marine Corps”, Langley had said at the July Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

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He added, “Now, the global security environment we are witnessing today is the most challenging I have seen throughout my 37 years”, but expressed an enthusiasm to “engage across the whole government to faithfully execute the policies and orders of the president and the secretary of defence”.

In his 37 years of service, Langley has been the deputy commanding general of the II Marine Expeditionary Force, deputy commanding general of the Fleet Marine Force, and the commanding general of the Marine Forces in Africa and Europe. 

Then, in November 2021, he assumed responsibilities of commanding general, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, and commander, Marine Forces Command and Marine Forces Northern Command.

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The US Marine Corps was established on November 10, 1775, and barred Black Americans from enlisting until then-president Franklin D Roosevelt signed an executive order prohibiting discriminatory practices in recruitment. However, as per National Archives records, there were concerns about civil rights. 

Then, Harry Truman ordered the desegregation of forces as the US President and though it was met with resistance from military personnel, units were eventually desegregated by the end of the Korean war. Since then, there’s been significant progress, but there’s still some ways to go as per a 2020 Council on Foreign Relations report, which speaks of Black men and women being underrepresented in the senior leadership of the Marine Corps.