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



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 and the Montford Point Marines.

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 bronze replica “collective” 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 and they were stellar in their service.

All of the estimated 20,000 Montford Point Marines participants [both living and deceased] of the Montford Point Marines were awarded a singular “collective” CGM by members of the U.S. Congress in a one-time only ceremony held on June 27, 2012  inside the U.S. Capitol Rotunda with 368 Montford Point Marines and widows present representing  all of the Montford Point Marines.

Immediately following the ceremony, the one and only singular CGM was taken to the Smithsonian Institution.

The following day, June 28, 2012, in a ceremony at  the Marine Barracks, located in Washington, DC, every attending Montford Point Marine or a family member of a deceased Montford Point Marine was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) bronze replica by then-incumbent Commandant of the Marine Corps General James F. Amos.

 The Montford Point Marines Association purchased these CGM bronze replicas and presented them to MPMs.

The Tuskegee Airmen also received a singular, one-time only CGM; both sit in the same location at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, DC. 

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.