Marines celebrate commitment to diversity and equal opportunity with NAACP
By SSgt. Arsenio Cortez
| | July 18, 2003
6TH MARINE CORPS DISTRICT, Parris Island, S.C. --
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA - The United States Marine Corps joined thousands of members and representatives of the NAACP in their 94th annual convention July 12 to 16, at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
The theme of this year's conference, "Having our say," reflects the first amendment of the United States Constitution, the freedom of speech, according to Kweisi Mfume, president and chief executive officer of
NAACP, an organization committed to equal opportunity and civil rights.
As Marine Corps Recruiting Station Fort Lauderdale recruiters continue to capitalize on South Florida's diverse population, this same diversity also attracts many of the leading organizations in the nation to hold conventions here.
Although the convention was national in coverage, south Florida's African-American population can be easily spotted in the map, according to Capt. Mark V. Cole, marketing analysis officer for Marine Corps Recruiting Command. There are more than 851,000 African Americans in south Florida, indicating 20 percent of the population here.
With the extensive influence of the African-American economic force, organizations of various proportions are dipping into this market comprehensively. Among the exhibitors were companies such as NASA, General Motors, Johnson and Johnson. The Marine Corps is one of the many government agencies that have been well represented in this community for many years.
The Marines presence in the convention showcases the Corps'commitment to diversification, displaying the strength of the Marine Corps that comes from all walks of life, races, cultures, and traditions.
The Marine Corps Recruiting Command engaged the audience through booth operations, using the Marine Corps Chin-up Challenge at the exhibit, and an information booth at the diversity job fair. These efforts ultimately focused on influencing people to join the Marines.
"Any convention with this magnitude is well worth it to show the eagle, globe and anchor," said Capt. James Lenard, Officer Selection Officer of Miami. "Getting the word out to those who may not realize they
can be a Marine is a victory by itself. That is what our job is all about. It is also a good opportunity to meet people with diverse backgrounds and find quality young men and women to join our ranks in the Marine Corps."
Throughout history, African-Americans have significant contributions in the fight to preserve freedom, even when segregation was a rampant practice in society. Many African Americans during that time even donned a military uniform and served under the American flag.
As GySgt. Perry E. Fischer described in his famous quote, "These men, who worked, fought, were wounded and
died under the American flag, who had been treated as second class citizens all their lives, had to fight segregation to get into the Marine Corps so they could fight enemies of America."
Today, more than 23,000 African Americans are serving in the Marine Corps. This number is growing every year, demonstrating the Corps' commitment to diversification.
According to the message from the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Michael W. Hagee,"It is through diversity that an organization is unified and ultimately strengthened. For the uniformed services, the significance is far greater, of course, as success is measured in lives saved on the battlefield. It is a philosophy to which the Marine Corps is wholeheartedly committed."