Civil Rights Trail to add a marker at Camp Claiborne
The Louisiana Office of Tourism will unveil the next marker on the Louisiana Civil Rights Trail on Wednesday, February 2, 2022, at the Louisiana Maneuvers & Military Museum in Pineville honoring the 761st Tank Battalion, an experimental unit, just like the Tuskegee Airman, formed at Camp Claiborne on April 1, 1942. Lieutenant Governor, Billy Nungesser will be on hand for the unveiling.
From 1940 to 1944, Louisiana hosted a series of military maneuvers designed to train soldiers for all aspects of Army Ground Forces operations. Approximately 75,000 black soldiers maneuvered in Central Louisiana. The 761st Tank Battalion was attached to many commands in Europe. Eight infantry divisions utilized this armored unit for direct support. As part of General Patton’s Third Army, the fighting ability of the 761st became legendary and it acquired the nickname, “Patton’s Panthers.” By showing their prowess, this and other units proved the Army did not need segregated units. On July 21, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981 desegregating the United States Army.
The Louisiana Civil Rights Trail continues to recognize and bring to life Louisiana’s role in the modern civil rights movement. The markers tell the significant role Louisiana played in shaping American history during the 1950s and 60s and draw attention to the courage and commitment of the trailblazers of the movement.
The monuments placed are life-sized metal figures that are cut from steel, weigh over 200 pounds, and stand over 6 feet tall. The fabrication of the interpretative markers for the Louisiana Civil Rights Trail is being supported in part by an African American Civil Rights Grant from the Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior.