A celebration to honor the first African-American in the Marine Corps takes place Thursday in Jacksonville. Marine Corps Installations East – Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune will hold the ceremony at 8 am at the Montford Point Marine Memorial at Lejeune Memorial Gardens. The event celebrates the history and accomplishments of nearly 20,000 African-Americans that served in the Marine Corps from 1942 to 1949. The keynote speaker will be Rev. Dr. Roosevelt Baxter Jr., senior pastor at Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, a 25 year veteran who retired as a Master Gunnery Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. The Montford Point Marine Memorial, which was completed last year, includes a sculpture of a Montford Point Marine ascending a hill, representing the struggle of African American Marines who experienced segregation and discrimination in service. The memorial also includes an anti-aircraft gun and a “Wall of Heroes” with about 20,000 gold stars representative of the number of African American Marines who trained at Camp Montford Point. In 2010, Congress passed Senate Resolution 587 which designated August 26 as Montfort Point Marine Day.