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Maj. Gen. Clifford Stanley

U.S. Marine Corps MajGen. Clifford L. Stanley was born on March 31, 1947 in Washington, D.C. After graduating from Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1965, Stanley enrolled in South Carolina State University and graduated with his B.S. degree in psychology in 1969. He went on to graduate with honors from Johns Hopkins University with his M.S. degree in counseling in 1977. In 2005, Stanley received his Ed.D. degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania. Stanley’s military education includes the Amphibious Warfare School (1978), the Naval War College (1983), the Marine Corps Command and Staff College (1984), and the National War College (1988).

Throughout his thirty-three year career, Stanley has served in numerous command and staff positions in the U.S. Marine Corps, including as commanding officer of M Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, commanding officer of Headquarters Company of the 4th Marines; commanding general of Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) Twentynine Palms, California; and commanding general of the Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia. In 1993 Stanley assumed command of the 1st Marine Regiment, Camp Pendleton, California, making him the first African American to command a U.S. Marine Corps Infantry Regiment. Stanley has also served in various assignments outside of the Fleet Marine Forces, including as psychology and leadership instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy; executive officer at the Marine Corps Institute; special assistant and Marine Corps aide for the Assistant Secretary of the Navy; and as a desk officer in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia and the Pacific Region in the Pentagon. In 2002, Stanley retired from the U.S. Marine Corps at the rank of Major General. He went on to serve as executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania, and then as president of Scholarship America, Inc. Stanley was sworn in as the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness on February 16, 2010.

Stanley is a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., the South Carolina State University Alumni Association, the National Naval Officers Association, and the White House Fellow’s Foundation and Association. He also serves as a member of the Board of Deacons at Grace Baptist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Stanley’s military honors include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (2 awards), the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal. His civilian awards include receiving the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (N.A.A.C.P.) Meritorious Service Award, the N.A.A.C.P. Roy Wilkins Award, and the American Legion Award for Inspirational Leadership. Stanley also received Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degrees from Spalding University and South Carolina State University, and the Doctor of Science, honoris causa from the Medical University of South Carolina.

Stanley and his wife, Rosalyn Hill Stanley, have one daughter: U.S. Navy Commander Angela Yvonne Stanley.

U.S. Marine Corps MajGen. Clifford Lee Stanley was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 6, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.178

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/6/2013

Last Name

Stanley

Maker Category
Middle Name

L.

Occupation
Schools

University of Pennsylvania

Johns Hopkins University

South Carolina State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Clifford

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

STA08

Favorite Season

Spring

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Charleston, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

3/31/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Villanova

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Shrimp, Grits

Short Description

Major general Maj. Gen. Clifford Stanley (1947 - ) was assigned as commanding officer of the 1st Marine Regiment, Camp Pendleton, California from 1993 to 1994, making him the first African American to command a U.S. Marine Corps Infantry Regiment.

Employment

Company M, 3d Battalion, 8th Marines

United States Marine Corps

1st Battalion, 6th Marines

1st Marine Regiment

Marine Corps Institute and Parade Commander at Marine Barracks

First Recruit Training Battalion, Parris Island

2d Fleet, USS Mt Whitney, LCC-20

Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center

Marine Corps Base

Favorite Color

Blue, Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Clifford Stanley's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Clifford Stanley lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Clifford Stanley describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Clifford Stanley describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Clifford Stanley talks about his mother's career, her personality, and how she raised her family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Clifford Stanley describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Clifford Stanley talks about his paternal family's life during discrimination in the South

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Clifford Stanley talks about his family being the target of a sniper attack and their response towards racial discrimination

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Clifford Stanley describes his grandparents and how he was taught about the importance of character

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Clifford Stanley talks about the sniper attack on his family in April, 1975

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Clifford Stanley talks about the impact of the sniper attack on his family in April of 1975

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Clifford Stanley talks about his father's education and how his father was drafted into World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Clifford Stanley describes how his parents met and married

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Clifford Stanley discusses his father's employment as a photographer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Clifford Stanley describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Clifford Stanley discusses his parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Clifford Stanley talks about his brother, Michael Stanley

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Clifford Stanley talks about growing up around relatives in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Clifford Stanley describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Clifford Stanley discusses his activities as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Clifford Stanley discusses his experience in elementary school in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Clifford Stanley talks about the integration of schools in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Clifford Stanley talks about his favorite teachers in school and college and his elementary school in Washington, D.C.,

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Clifford Stanley talks about his interest in reading and his struggle with mathematics

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Clifford Stanley talks about his service activities as a child and his limited interest in television

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Clifford Stanley talks about his middle school in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Clifford Stanley talks about the Civil Rights Movement and his involvement in South Carolina State University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Clifford Stanley talks about attending high school in Washington, D.C., and his family's interest in President John F. Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Clifford Stanley talks about his service activities and African American members of the military

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Clifford Stanley talks about his involvement in junior ROTC in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Clifford Stanley talks about his desire to become a lawyer while in high school, and the poor counseling that he received there

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Clifford Stanley describes his decision to attend South Carolina State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Clifford Stanley talks about the summer of 1965, before heading to college

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Clifford Stanley describes his experience at South Carolina State University as well as meeting his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Clifford Stanley describes his extracurricular activities and leadership positions at South Carolina State University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Clifford Stanley discusses the South Carolina State Student Legislative Branch and the resignation of President B.C. Turner

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Clifford Stanley talks about the disciplinary standards at South Carolina State University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Clifford Stanley reflects upon the Orangeburg Massacre of 1968, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Clifford Stanley reflects upon the Orangeburg Massacre of 1968, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Clifford Stanley talks about his stand during the Orangeburg Massacre

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Clifford Stanley talks about meeting the governor of South Carolina and Attorney Matthew Perry

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Clifford Stanley talks about majoring in psychology, and graduating from South Carolina State University

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Clifford Stanley talks about his brother's service in the Vietnam War, and joining the U.S. Marines

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Clifford Stanley talks about joining the U.S. Marine Corps and his training at Officer Candidate School

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Clifford Stanley talks about leadership standards for the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Clifford Stanley talks about becoming an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Clifford Stanley talks about getting married in 1961, and reflects upon the Vietnam War

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Clifford Stanley reflects upon the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Clifford Stanley talks about serving as an infantryman in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Clifford Stanley reflects upon being an instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1974

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Clifford Stanley reflects upon the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Clifford Stanley describes his experience at the U.S. Naval Academy and talks about pursuing his master's degree at Johns Hopkins University

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Clifford Stanley discusses his experience and training at the Amphibious Warfare School

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Clifford Stanley discusses his philosophy of command

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Clifford Stanley discusses his assignment as the Infantry Company Commander, 3rd Marine Division, in Okinawa, Japan

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Clifford Stanley discusses his assignments as a ceremonial parade commander and a special assistant in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Clifford Stanley discusses his experience at Marine Corps Command and Staff College at Quantico, Virginia and talks about the Beirut bombing of 1983

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Clifford Stanley discusses his experience at Camp Lejune and Parris Island in the 1980s, and the challenges that he faced in the Marines

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Clifford Stanley talks about attending the National War College, and writing a paper on the fall of the Berlin War

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Clifford Stanley talks about his experience as a White House Fellow in the Reagan and Bush administrations in the late 1980s, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Clifford Stanley talks about his experience as a White House Fellow in the Reagan and Bush administrations in the late 1980s, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Clifford Stanley describes his service as advisor for POW/MIA Affairs and as assistant for Australia and New Zealand, Office of the Secretary of Defense

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Clifford Stanley talks about his service as head of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command Battle Assessment Team at Quantico and in the Gulf War

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Clifford Stanley describes his assignment and experience as Infantry Regimental Commander in the 1st Marine Division, at Camp Pendleton

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Clifford Stanley explains the Posse Comitatus Act

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Clifford Stanley discusses his appointment as a Fleet Marine Officer of USS Mount Whitney, and the challenges that he faced as an early-select colonel

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Clifford Stanley discusses the challenges and resistance he faced in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Clifford Stanley talks about the USS Mount Whitney

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Clifford Stanley reflects upon the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that was signed into law in 1993

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Clifford Stanley discusses his assignment as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, at the U.S. Marine Corps headquarters and as Director of Public Affairs

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Clifford Stanley discusses his service as Commanding General of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Clifford Stanley talks about the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Clifford Stanley discusses his retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2002

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Clifford Stanley discusses his appointment as executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Clifford Stanley discusses his disappointing experience as the executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Clifford Stanley discusses the genesis of his doctoral dissertation

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Clifford Stanley discusses his experience as the president of Scholarship America

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Clifford Stanley describes his appointment as the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness in 2009

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Clifford Stanley describes his experience as the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Clifford Stanley discusses some of the problems that were faced by the Department of Defense when he became the Under Secretary of Defense

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Clifford Stanley talks about the closure of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Clifford Stanley reflects upon the circumstances surrounding his resignation as the Under Secretary of Defense in 2011

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Clifford Stanley reflects upon the being treated differently when making executive decisions in the U.S. Marine Corps and at the Pentagon

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Clifford Stanley discusses his involvement with the National Naval Officers Association

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Clifford Stanley talks about his involvement in the Baptist Church

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Clifford Stanley describes his activities after retiring as the Under Secretary of Defense.

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Clifford Stanley reflects upon his legacy as a U.S. Marine

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Clifford Stanley describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community today

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Clifford Stanley describes his hopes and concerns for U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Clifford Stanley reflects upon his career as a U.S. Marine

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Clifford Stanley talks about his daughter, Angela Stanley

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Clifford Stanley reflects upon his life's choices

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Clifford Stanley discusses his religious faith

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Clifford Stanley talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

7$6

DAStory

7$8

DATitle
Clifford Stanley discusses the challenges and resistance he faced in the U.S. Marine Corps
Clifford Stanley discusses his experience at Camp Lejune and Parris Island in the 1980s, and the challenges that he faced in the Marines
Transcript
So, I check into the USS Mount Whitney [Norfolk, Virginia, as a Fleet Marine Officer]. I was there, I wasn't there four months, and I was early selected for brigadier general. And that also hasn't happened since then. I think there were two or three of us. There might have been three. But anyway, it was a below zone select. And that was, I might have been the only one, I'm not sure. But anyway, to make a long story short, I think I was the only one. That also set the stage for a different set of expectations. And so, I'm now a pioneer, when I didn't want to be a pioneer. And so, life got pretty interesting after that. I'm now in a peer group, as I'm standing here with brand new brigadier generals who were much senior to me. They were, you know, they used to be much senior to me. They're no longer. That doesn't go over very well in the [U.S.] Marine Corps. And so, that's one of the things that I experienced right early on. And although I had no regrets about it--because I didn't select myself, the Marine Corps did. You fast forward--even though I know we're going to go back to some of this. I was not selected for major general the first time. That's transparent to a lot of folks. And I'm now back with my peers. But that's considered just about, you know, pass over. The subtleties, or not so subtle things, were that your record didn't change. But there are a lot of folks who said, okay we're going to make this right, you know. Because the people who selected me were people like this general that weighed in, and some other folks--these other older generals--who saw, who wanted, and who pushed. But I was closer now to a peer group who were a little bit senior--who didn't see, who didn't like, and who didn't support. And so, I ran into what I would call the block. And--$$So, every time you were helped up, there was--they made another group a little angrier.$$Oh yeah, oh yeah. And again, I mean if you had your (unclear), you'd rather just kind of be in the mix. Because I'm not trying to do anything. You're just trying to do your job and to serve. It's still altruistic, but that's not the way that's taken when someone's reaching in to do things. My peers at the other services--that happened, but they were advanced. I mean, you know, and they continued. They became four-stars. They became three-stars and things like that. But in the Marine Corps, after myself--me and Charlie Bolden [also a HistoryMaker] left. That's when things started opening up a little bit, because our move was within two, within a month of each other. Both of us were in the same position. Charlie goes down to NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration]. And both of us retired as two-stars. Both of us were continuing to be pioneers; both of us were reaching a certain point; and both of us, independent of each other, without collusion, said it's time. And we moved. And then things opened up a little bit. I've kind of gave you some narrative that wasn't where your question was, but--.$$Yeah, but that's important narrative though, nevertheless.$Alright, so, Camp Lejeune [North Carolina] in '84 [1984]. [Marine Corps recruit Depot] Parris Island [South Carolina] in '86 [1986]. So, you were at Camp Lejeune for two years.$$Uh huh.$$Alright.$$There's a lot in that story, though. This is--are you familiar with command screening at all? Heard of that? Most of the services, the [U.S.] Army's had it a lot longer than the [U.S.] Marine Corps had. But in order to become a commander, particularly at the lieutenant colonel level, most services--the [U.S.] Navy, the Army--now the Marine Corps, the [U.S.] Air Force--have a screening process that's held out of the local command. And they look at your records and your reputation and what you've done. And they say "Okay, here's a person. We're going to select you." And they have a board that convenes, not a statutory board, but a board. At that time, it was no command screening process in the Marine Corps. And so, selection of commanders was pretty much--it was parochial, pretty much. It was done by the local commander. "I want this person to be my commander." And there could be pros and cons, whatever way. And so, when I was at [Camp] Lejeune, I went in as a major, a senior major, XO [executive officer] of an infantry battalion. And that's a very critical time. Because right then, as I was selected for lieutenant colonel, the argument that some have made in my absence has been that I should have been afforded the opportunity to become an infantry battalion commander. I remember that. That was one of the things I said I wanted to do right from the very beginning. And I wasn't. And so, when I left Lejeune to follow my orders and go to Parris Island, South Carolina--General Glasgow, who was actually the division commander in Okinawa [Japan] the last time I was there--was then the CG, the commanding general of Parris Island, South Carolina Marine Corps Recruit Depot. I checked in, and General Glasgow was not very happy that I wasn't afforded the opportunity to command an infantry battalion. He said, "You should have been." And he said, "But we're going to right that. We're going to ensure that you command a battalion here." And so, he said, "You'll start out as the inspector until a battalion opens up, and then I want you to become our first Recruit Training Battalion Commander." Then I came out of the top level schools list. This is where the unusual stuff comes in. I was the only person out of all the lieutenant colonels there--there were quite a few who was selected for a top level school. And so, General Glasgow called me back in and said, "Some people aren't going to be happy about this, but I'm going to put you in command of the battalion immediately. So, prepare to take command, so that you can at least have this done before you go to school. And you will go to school, you should go to school. You've been selected for school." So, he did that. But when he did that, the regimental commander wasn't happy, but he couldn't do anything. The regimental commander was a colonel. I was a lieutenant colonel. So, the general puts me in command. I take command, the first time a black is now in charge of a command at Parris Island. It's a battalion. General Glasgow retires. At the retirement ceremony you know kind of what's coming. General Glasgow is retiring. General Hore (ph.), another general, he comes in and he's taking over. Colonel Ogle (ph.), as soon as the Chain of Command Ceremony is over, Glasgow leaves. I go to my office. The colonel comes over to my office, sits down, looks at me and says, "Your sugar daddy is gone. Your 'blank' belongs to me." And I'll never forget that. And I said, "Alright, Sir, I'm going to still serve. I'm going to do my job to the best of my ability." And that was it. And so, I went home and told my wife [Rosalyn H. Stanley]. I said, "I think my career is about shot here. I'm just going to go ahead and kind of (laughter)--." That was one of the times I said that. And to make a long story short, fortunately General Hore (ph) also kind of knew not only my record, but also my reputation. And he just sort of hovered, and didn't allow certain things to happen. And there were a group of colonels that were peers of the other colonel, who also knew me. One happened to be, had been stationed at the [U.S.] Naval Academy when I was up in that area. He also knew me. And so, they didn't allow it to happen. So, I was blessed. I was very fortunate. But it was close, in terms of--. And he didn't do me any favors, but he didn't kill me. And so, as a result--much like what Colin Powell said in his book if you've read it--you know, I got fortunate. Because I was fortunate because of just people watching out for me, you know. And those were white officers. You know, these were seniors, you know. But the bottom line was that there was still a lot of contention. Those things didn't go away over the years. In fact, they got harder the more senior I got. The junior--what I dealt with was as a junior officer, a lot of applause. Once I made major, things started getting a little heavy. And they got heavier, the more senior I got. You know, I can't say, you know, I'm--. But that's just kind of how it was.$$I guess it makes sense on some level.$$Uh huh, yeah. Yeah, so it got pretty heavy.$$But you did have people around you that--$$Oh, yeah.$$--that knew what you could do.$$Oh yeah, no question.$$Okay. So, now you're at Parris Island for, until 1987, right?$$Yeah, just a year.$$Okay.