Charles Young: A century after his death, the first black colonel in the US Army is promoted to general
Young’s promotion retroactively makes him the first recognized Black American with that rank, the military said.
The honorary designation, after years of efforts to promote him posthumously, was the subject of a formal promotion ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point on Friday.
“Young’s promotion today to brigadier general has been long delayed, but fortunately for all of us, it is no longer denied,” Army Undersecretary Gabe Camarillo said Friday at the ceremony. . Camarillo also praised Young as a “model leader” and called his legacy “downright inspiring.”
Members of the de Young family were present at the ceremony, including his great-niece Renotta Young, who received Young’s posthumous honorary promotion order and certificate, a gold-plated leather belt worn by general officers, and a general officer’s flag one star.
“Charles Young resisted social isolation not only at West Point, but throughout his military career and in national parks,” Renotta Young recalled in a speech Friday, adding that despite the difficulties Young faced, he “had managed to like” the American experience.
“Although he felt the acute sting of discriminatory treatment from his classmates here at West Point, at various points in his career from his superiors as well, he did not relegate the whole ‘White America on the racist side of the ledger,’ she added.
Renotta Young told CNN it took half a century for her uncle to be promoted to brigadier general, an effort largely driven by her family and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. of which Young is an honorary member.
“Even though it was long overdue, this was the moment it happened, and I think it’s a good time for people to communicate the legacy of his life and what he did. for our country,” she told CNN.
Racism has stalled Young’s career
Young would break another barrier in 1903 when he became the first black national park superintendent after he and his troops were assigned to manage Sequoia National Park in northern California. He was the first black military attaché, became the first military attaché to Haiti and the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola in 1904, and was appointed military attaché to Liberia in 1912. He also taught military science and tactics at Wilberforce University in Ohio in between his military duties.
Young received additional promotions during his military career, including major in 1912 and lieutenant colonel in 1916, according to the NPS. He retired from medical treatment in July 1917 and was promoted to colonel, the first black man to reach that rank.
It was an attempt to remedy a long-standing stain on U.S. military history and honor a man who, as DuBois recalled, was a “triumph of tragedy.”
“He was one of the few men I know who literally turned the other cheek with Jesus Christ,” DuBois wrote. “He was laughed at for it and his own people reprimanded him bitterly, but he persisted. When a Southern white pygmy at West Point protested being taken from a dish past d “First to Young, Young passed it first to him and then to himself. When lower-ranking officers refused to salute a Negro, he would salute them. He rarely loses his temper, rarely complains.”
CNN’s Eva McKend and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.