U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael E. Langley has been confirmed as a general, making history as the first black four-star Marine general in 246 years, the Marine Corps announced this week.
Congress confirmed Langley’s promotion on Monday. He will become commander of U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, and command all U.S. military forces in Africa, according to the Marines.
Langley, who is from Shreveport, Louisiana, has served in Okinawa, Japan and Afghanistan and has commanded Marines at every level – from platoon to regiment.
In June, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III announced that President Biden had nominated Langley to be appointed general.
Langley grew up in a military family. His father, retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Willie C. Langley, served in the Air Force for 25 years, Langley told confirmation hearing in June. “As many candidates have said in testimony before me, military families are the foundation upon which our Joint Force readiness rests. My family is no different,” he said.
His stepmother, Ola Langley, whom Langley said he “affectionately refers to[s] as a mom.” was superintendent of the US Post Office.
Langley graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington. His formal military training includes the US Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School and the Naval Command and Staff College. He also holds multiple advanced degrees, including a master’s degree in Strategic National Security Studies from the US Naval War College and a Master’s in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College.
Austin, who is a retired four-star general and the nation’s first black secretary of defense, spoke about the importance of diversity in the military earlier this year. “Diversity is really important to us. The … military has led the way in a lot of cases,” he said at the Black History Month roundtable. “With respect to diversity, I have to make sure that we continue to make strides. And I equate diversity with being invited to dance. It’s actually asking inclusion to dance.”
Lt. Gen. Richard Clarke, who became the Air Force’s first black superintendent in 2020, spoke about his commitment to diversity and inclusion in the military to CBS News earlier this year. “If we don’t really start opening up the whole population to get talent — and there’s talent there — we’re limiting ourselves, it’s going to weaken us,” he said. “And it’s not just the military, it’s in all sections of society.”
“We in the military have traditionally been quite diverse, very diverse, but we have some work to do there,” Clark said.