The black-and-white photograph looks like one in sixteen million, yet another portrait of a bright-eyed, fresh-faced, all-American World War II recruit. The uniform is crisp; the tie only slightly askew. The cap is part postman, part policeman—back when both those jobs were all male. The recruit’s wide-eyed look telegraphs pride, eagerness, and fear, a logical response considering that more than 400,000 American soldiers would die.
What makes the photo historic? The young Marine pictured, Howard P. Perry, is black.
Private Perry was the first African-American Marine recruit in 167 years.