Marine Corps promotes first Black officer to 4-star general in 246-year history

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Lt. Gen. Michael E. Langley has made history in becoming the first Black officer in the Marine Corps' 246-year history promoted to the rank of four-star general.

After the Senate voted to confirm Langley's promotion last week, the 37-year Marine Corps veteran who will oversee all U.S. military forces in Africa was formally promoted during a ceremony Saturday in Washington.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Langley was commissioned in 1985 and held command at every level in his Marine Corps career. On Saturday, he achieved the highest command any Black Marine has held.

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"Diversity is more than race," Langley said Saturday during a promotion ceremony at the Marine Corps barracks. "Diversity is about background, a mindset, attitudes. Collectively, that's the only way we're going to be able to maintain a decisive advantage over our strategic competitors."

Langley will oversee all U.S. military forces in Africa from his post as commander of U.S. Africa Command based in Stuttgart, Germany, according to the Marine Corps.

His promotion to four-star general comes 43 years after the first Black Marine achieved the rank of one-star general and 80 years after the Marine Corps first began accepting Black men in its ranks.

It took until 1948 for American military services to be desegregated by order of President Harry Truman.

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In June, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that President Joe Biden had nominated Langley to be appointed general.

“The milestone and what it means to the Corps is quite essential,” Langley said during Saturday’s ceremony, according to a Marine Corps report. “Not because the mark in history, but what it will affect going forward, especially for those younger across society that want to aspire and look at the Marine Corps as an opportunity.”

Contributing: The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gen. Michael Langley is first Black Marine promoted to 4-star general