First black marine promoted to four star general

Image - Michael E Langley: Defense Visual Information Distribution Service

Image - Michael E Langley: Defense Visual Information Distribution Service

For the first time in Marine Corps history, Michael E Langley will become the first African American man promoted to the position of four-star general. 

Founded in 1775, The United States Marine Corps has never before promoted an African American man to this rank. They were only desegregated in 1948 when President Harry Truman issued orders which prohibited discrimination in federal employment and ended segregation in the military. 

Truman’s orders came  after the American air base at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor had been attacked in 1941 by Imperial Japanese aircraft, resulting in the deaths of mostly junior officers, around 17 or 18 years of age. In December of the same year, the US entered into the military combat of the second world war. 

Even after military desegregation, it still took three decades for Frank Emmanuel Petersen Jr. to become the first African American Marine to be promoted to one-star general in 1979. 

Langley has credited his own father for his achievement, who told the General to “aim high”, as reported by He added that he “aimed as high as I could and found the few and the proud”. 

Born in Louisiana and growing up in various military bases because his father served in the Air Force, Langley graduated from the University of Texas before being commissioned as second lieutenant in the Marines in 1985. 

The Four-star General was nominated for the position by current President Joe Biden and confirmed his appointment on Monday 1st August 2022. Langley described his promotion as a “milestone” because of “what it will affect going forward” and the opportunities it will provide “those younger across society” who want to join the Marine Corps. 

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Image - Annie Dabb
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Annie Dabb

From Newcastle originally, Annie is based in Manchester and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features. Got a story you want to share? Then get in touch at