Haverford senior Shane Fordham’s grandfather, Carroll W. Braxton, was one of the first African Americans to enlist in the Marines Corps after the branch desegregated their ranks in the 1940s. Shane created a documentary to honor his grandfather’s contribution to the nation in an elective honors course at Haverford: Visual Communications in a Digital World. The nine-minute documentary, The Montford Point Marines: Carroll W. Braxton, has been selected to become a permanent fixture at the National Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Va.
The Montford Point Marines: Carroll W. Braxton features interviews, photos, and documents that detail Braxton’s journey to become a Marine in a racially divisive time in America’s history. Braxton completed his bootcamp at Montford Point, which was a segregated facility at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina they opened in 1942.
Shane says his grandfather has always inspired him, and thought Braxton’s service would be the perfect subject for his documentary.
“He’s taught me that you have to be able to go out of your comfort zone to excel,” said Shane of his grandfather. “He encourages me to stay at what I’m doing and not back down in pursuit of my goals.”
Shane interviewed his grandfather for three hours for the documentary. He also interviewed Dr. Denise Turner, the curator of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection. Dr. Turner’s father was also a Montford Point Marine.
In the documentary, Braxton discusses the harsh treatment he and his peers received upon arriving at Montford Point and throughout their time at the training facility.
Braxton said others who had come before them – like the Tuskegee Airmen and slaves – inspired them to continue their journey as Marines. One of the most memorable experiences for him and fellow Marines was a visit by then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who recognized their dedication to the country.
“A big convertible limo came, and when we looked up it was President Roosevelt,” said Braxton in the film. “He said, ‘You Marines have broken every record that these other Marines have set for years, and as far as I’m concerned, you’re just as good as any Marine that put that uniform on.’”
In 2012, Braxton was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal. He is a member of the Montford Point Marines Association and retired from the Marine Corps in 1979. Shane showed the finished documentary at his grandfather’s 94th birthday celebration this spring.
To watch The Montford Point Marines: Carroll W. Braxton, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldbXdl-ycnI