African Americans are rising through the ranks and breaking major racial barriers in the military. On Monday, Maj. Gen. Gary M. Brito will make history as the first Black person to become the commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning in Georgia, the Ledger-Inquirer reported.
Fort Benning has never had an African American commander in its 100-year history, the news outlet writes. Prior to being appointed to the role, Brito served as the commanding general of the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana. In 2004, he was a lieutenant colonel with the Third Brigade at Fort Benning. He will be replacing Maj. Gen. Eric J. Wesley.
His appointment is garnering attention because it will be the second post that Brito has commanded that was named after a Confederate general, which is sparking conversations about race, representation, and leadership in the military.
“Hopefully we are at a point – and I think we have been at that point at Fort Benning for a long time – that we judge people based on the content of their character and not the color of their skin,” Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, a former Fort Benning assistant commander told the Ledger-Inquirer. “I am very happy to see Gen. Brito get that position. I am glad we are moving to a point where it’s a point of fact of his ethnicity. And people will look at that, more from a standpoint of identifying when they meet him, who he is and where he came from. He’s a product of what this Army for years has been working to produce: competent leaders capable to go anywhere and lead and do any job.”
More African Americans are being put in leadership roles in the military space. Last year, 20-year-old Simone Askew made history when she became the first Black woman appointed to lead West Point cadets.