Pvt. Howard Perry was the U.S. Marines' first black recruit. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In a city that boasts its public art, a new mural featuring Pvt. Howard Perry — the first black Marine Corps recruit — will adorn the Charlotte Art League building in NoDa. The commissioned project is one of many scheduled activities happening during Marine Week and will be unveiled at a special ceremony on Sept. 8.

“While I was researching the city, Howard Perry stood out. I thought it was pretty cool history,” said artist Sgt. Elize McKelvey, who led the seven-person mural team.


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Since 2006, the annual event brings hundreds of Marines to cities across the country to develop a deeper connection with the Marine Corps. A community mural has become a tradition over the past four years.

Last year’s mural in Detroit depicted the history and accomplishments of the Montford Point Marines, a group of approximately 20,000 African-American men who trained in Montford Point, N.C., and fought in a segregated Marine Corps from 1942 through 1949. Johnson C. Smith University alumnus Thomas McPhatter was the last Montford Pointer to retire from active duty in 1983.

The mural unveiling ceremony is open to the public. It begins at 10 a.m. at Charlotte Art League’s new location at the Station House development on East Sugar Creek Road, along the Blue Line light rail extension.

Marine Week Charlotte concludes on Sept. 9.