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Charles J. Shaw and the Montford Point Marines at Bowers Museum

 

BY TAMMYE MCDUFF

In honor of all Veterans, the Bowers Museum will grant free admission to all veterans from November 11, 2020 to January 10, 2021 for the temporary display honoring local hero Charles Shaw.

On view in Bower’s Fluor Gallery is ‘Test of Medal: Charles J. Shaw and the Montford Point Marines’, the first Black drill instruction to train an integrated platoon of Marines and an important member of the African American community in Santa Ana.

charles j shaw

Charles J. Shaw

Included in the display are Shaw’s personal possessions from his time in the Marines, various medals and patches and most remarkably, his Congressional Gold Medal and Certificate.

From 1942 until 1949, nearly 20,000 African American men from across the United States came to Montford Point camp in Jacksonville, North Carolina seeking the American dream of inclusion and the opportunity to defend the country as a United States Marine. Like the wider society at large that was socially and culturally divided by race, the Marine Corps trained these men separately denying them their rightful place in the corps and in its rich tradition of service.

On November 23, 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Montford Point Marines. Almost a decade later, in a private ceremony on October 10, 2020, Charles Shaw was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and recognized for his pioneering role in desegregating the USMC.

This display is free with museum general admission for all visitors, admission also includes ‘Inside the Walt Disney Archives’ exhibit as well as the seven other permanent exhibitions.

On Tuesday, November 20th, Bowers will hold a virtual presentation entitled ‘Charles J. Shaw and the Montford Point Marines: presented by L.E. Johnson’. Several other important programs featuring and honoring Veterans will accompany this display through January.

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