Group of Nation's First Black Marines Says Chicago Center is in Danger of Closing

A group of some of the first black Marines say membership at their veteran's post in Chicago is not what it used to be. They have triumphed over adversity and say they really need a local building to carry on what they started for future generations.

The building is the Montfort Point Marines Veterans Center on South Vincennes Avenue. For decades it's been where a group of the first African Americans to serve in the United States Marine Corps has gathered.

"You can just look on the walls," Monfort Point Marine Frank Thrasher said of the many photos of those who served. "I call it the wall of fame."

"I just love coming here cause of the atmosphere, being around my comrades," said fellow Marine Floyd Sales.

The Montford Point Marines were restricted to a segregated boot camp in Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina in the 1940s.

"People don't know what we went though when we first went into the Marine Corps," Thrasher said.

But now, the Marines said, their beloved outpost is in trouble. One of the Marines, James Reynolds, said as he and his brothers-in-arms age, it's more and more difficult to take care of the property.

"We don't have that type of membership to sustain the building cause we don't have that many young vets coming here," Reynolds said.

Property taxes are also behind. Members are now hoping for a miracle.

Sharon Stokes is the group's president.

"We consider them our heroes," she told NBC 5.

She started a GoFundMe to raise money for repairs and property taxes. She made it her mission to keep this group's legacy alive.

The the chapter needs to raise $200,000 by Feb. 1 or they could lose the building and all its rich history. But they are hoping through the generosity of others that won't happen.

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