Marines set to have first Black 4-star general in the branch's 246-year history

Posted at 10:27 PM, Jul 20, 2022

His career in the U.S. Marine Corps began some 35 years ago when Lt. Gen. Michael Langley was discovered by Maj. Ronald Bailey in the late 1980s.

Langley was known as a strong power lifter and a powerhouse on the flag football field, as the Washington Post reported. As a first lieutenant, he was based in the prestigious D.C. barracks downtown, one of the few young Black Marines to be based there.

Bailey appeared to mentor Langley through the years. When he became a 3-star general, he continued to advise Langley, telling him that he "will live under a microscope” and must "always set the standard,” he told the Washington Post.

Langley, a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, is the son of a former non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force. He has taken posts in Afghanistan during that long war, along with multiple tours in Europe and Asia, NPR reported.

According to Stars and Stripes, Langley took command of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa in 2021. As the military news outlet reported, it came "after his predecessor was removed amid allegations of using a racial slur for African Americans in front of troops."

Langley holds multiple advanced degrees, with a masters in National Security Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College.

“I think it is a long time coming, but we have a long way to go,” said Maj. Jamie Hickman in Stars and Stripes. Hickman serves with the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. “I think it is necessary to make changes so we can have an impact on tomorrow’s Army and tomorrow’s military.

“If my daughter decides to join the Army, I want her to come into a safe environment where everyone is treated equally, with dignity and respect.”

Langley told Stars and Stripes last year, "Ninety-nine percent of my experiences coming up through the ranks have been positive ones that can be characterized as opportunities to excel, to gain success," he said. "As far as adversity, it came in moments. They were always learning experiences to me. But they were few and far between."

In 2019 NPR took a look at some of the storied history of the U.S. armed forces and noted the historic move when the country saw President Harry Truman desegregate the armed forces in 1948.