Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, presented a Congressional Gold Medal Monday to Joseph Beaver, one of the first African Americans to join the U.S. Marine Corps and a longtime civil rights advocate.
The ceremony began at 6 p.m. in Rancho Mirage.
Beaver served in the Marine Corps from 1943 to 1946 and was a Montfort Point Marine. He also joined Martin Luther King Jr. in his 1963 March on Washington and later worked with the NAACP in Palm Springs "to integrate the city and fight for equal rights," according to Ruiz's office.
In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt issued a presidential directive giving African Americans the chance to be recruited into the Marines. They trained at Montford Point, a segregated facility at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, according to the National Montford Point Marine Association.
The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress' "highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions" and can be given to a person, institution or event, according to the House of Representatives.
– City News Service.