Monday, November 3, 2014

Charles Young-Highest-ranking Black Officer in the United States Army

Charles Young was the 3rd African-American graduate of West Point, the 1st black U.S. National Park Superintendent, 1st black military attaché, 1st black to achieve the rank of Colonel, and Highest-ranking Black Officer in the United States Army until his death in 1922. Young was born in 1864 into slavery to Gabriel Young and Arminta Bruen, but he grew up a free person. His father escaped from slavery in 1865, going across the Ohio River to Ripley, Ohio, to enlist as a private in the Fifth Regiment of the Colored Artillery (Heavy) Volunteers during the American Civil War. His service earned him and his wife freedom, as did emancipation at the end of the war. As a youth, Charles attended the all-white high school in Ripley, the only one available. He graduated at age 16 at the top of his class. Following graduation, he taught school for a few years at the newly established black high school of Ripley. While teaching, Young took a competitive examination for appointment as a cadet at United States Military Academy at West Point. He achieved the 2nd highest score in the district in 1883, and after the primary candidate dropped out, Young reported to the academy in 1884. Young graduated in 1889 with his commission as a second lieutenant, the 3rd black man to do so at the time. He was first assigned to the Tenth U.S. Cavalry Regiment. Through a reassignment, he served first with the Ninth U.S. Cavalry Regiment, starting in Nebraska. His subsequent service of 28 years was chiefly with black troops—the Ninth U.S. Cavalry and the Tenth U.S. Cavalry, black troops nicknamed the "Buffalo Soldiers" since the Indian Wars. The armed services were racially segregated until 1948, when President Harry S. Truman initiated integration by Executive order, which took some years to complete. Beginning in 1894 as a lieutenant, Young was assigned to Wilberforce College in Ohio, a historically black college (HBCU), to lead the new military sciences department, which was established under a special federal grant. In 1903, Young served as captain of a black company at the Presidio of San Francisco. When appointed acting superintendent of Sequoia and General Grant national parks, he was the 1st black superintendent of a national park. In 1912 Young was assigned as military attaché in Liberia, the 1st African American to hold that post. 2013 - President Barack Obama used the Antiquities Act to designate Young's house as the 401st unit of the National Park System, the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument.                                      

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