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NAACP Supports the Posthumous Promotion of Colonel Charles Young to the Rank of Brigadier General


WHEREAS, Charles Young, son of a Civil War Veteran and former slaves, Gabriel and Arminta Young, was born in Mayslick, Kentucky on March 12, 1864; and 

WHEREAS, Young entered West Point in 1884 and became only the third African-American to graduate from the United States Military Academy in 1889 and made a career of the military that spanned 33 years of segregated service where he became the highest-ranking African-American in the United States Armed Forces from 1894 until his death in 1922; and 

WHEREAS, as a newly commissioned Second Lieutenant, Young was assigned to the Ninth U.S. Cavalry and served at frontier posts at Ft. Robinson, Nebraska and Ft. Duchesne, Utah from 1889-94; and after a few months when war broke out with Spain, Young was reassigned to Camp Algers, Virginia where a rebellious white soldier refused to salute the Black officer; and 

WHEREAS, Young served as Professor of Military Science at Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, on detached duty 1894-98; while there he was promoted to First Lieutenant in 1896; and 

WHEREAS, in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, Young was appointed Major, U.S. Volunteers, in the Ohio National Guard to command its Ninth Infantry Battalion; and 

WHEREAS, in 1899 Young returned to the Ninth Cavalry with his Regular Army rank of First Lieutenant, and served again at Ft. Duchesne, Utah where he met and encouraged a young Sergeant Major named Benjamin O. Davis to attend Officers Training School who later became the first Black General in the U.S. Army; and 

WHEREAS, promoted to Captain in 1901, Young commanded troops in the Ninth Cavalry and led his men in combat in the Philippine Islands during the Philippine Insurrection from 1901-02; and 

WHEREAS, while serving in San Francisco, Young, who was temporarily posted as Superintendent of Sequoia National Park in 1903, became the first African- American appointed as a National Park Superintendent; and 

WHEREAS, Young became the first African-American officer appointed to duty as a military attaché while serving in Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic) 1904-1907 then returned once again to the Ninth Cavalry and served at Camp McGrath in the Philippine Islands and Ft. D.A. Russell, Wyoming from 1908-11; and 

WHEREAS, Young served as military attaché to Liberia from 1912-15, where he was promoted to the rank of Major, developed the Liberian Frontier Forces, built roads, was wounded during a rescue mission, and was later recognized for his exceptional work there by the NAACP who awarded him the Spingarn Award in 1916; and 

WHEREAS, Young was reassigned to the Tenth U.S. Cavalry during the Mexican Revolution and served as part of General 'Black Jack' Pershing's Punitive (300 mile) Expedition into Mexico from 1916-17, where he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel; and 

WHEREAS, after the war broke out in Europe, the Black media called for the promotion of Young to Brigadier General and then former President Teddy Roosevelt in a speech days before his death, acknowledged Young as the one Black man capable of such a command, but the War Department was pressured from white officers and Southern Congressmen to stop Young's promotion; and 

WHEREAS, during his promotion board in 1917, Young was medically retired for high blood pressure but promoted to the rank of Colonel; however, to prove his fitness for duty, Colonel Young rode (and walked) nearly 500 miles from Wilberforce, Ohio to Washington, D.C., but was not recalled to active duty until days before the Armistice was signed ending World War I; too late for him to command troops in combat or to be promoted to Brigadier General; and 

WHEREAS, Young was recalled to active duty in 1919 as military attaché to Liberia and while on an intelligence mission he became critically ill, died and was buried in Lagos, Nigeria on January 8, 1922 and buried with military honors rendered by British Troops; and 

WHEREAS, upon the insistence of his family and members of the national community, after 18 months his body was exhumed and returned to the United States where he was re-buried in Arlington National Cemetery on June 1st, 1923; and 

WHEREAS, on June 1, 2010, the National Veterans Coalition, which is a group of Black Veteran Organizations and Associations, who have come together to honor the memory of Colonel Charles Young, will be sponsoring a graveside ceremony for Colonel Young honoring the 87th Anniversary of his internment at Arlington National Cemetery; and 

WHEREAS, many Americans past and present felt had it not been for the political/social climate of the times, Colonel Young would have been the first black Brigadier General in the United States Armed Forces; and 

WHEREAS, Young was also a devoted family man who mastered several languages, played and composed music for piano, violin and guitar and was friends with some of the most educated and gifted Black men of the day – W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington, and Paul Lawrence Dunbar; and 

WHEREAS, NAACP President and CEO, Benjamin Todd Jealous, recently submitted a support letter offering to join with the National Veterans Coalition in extending accolades and honor in remembrance of Colonel Charles Young for his "unwavering commitment and stalwart leadership in advancing the cause." 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP support Congressional Legislation to be introduced to the U.S. Congress under the direction of Representative Barbara Lee, Chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus, calling for the Posthumous Promotion of Colonel Charles Young to the Rank of Brigadier General; and 

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP call upon the United States Congress and President Obama to give this distinguished American veteran in death, what he should have been granted in life, the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Army.