Valley man to receive Congressional Gold Medal

Joseph Beaver was one of the first African Americans to join the U.S. Marine Corps

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, will present 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 is scheduled for 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.

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