Black Veterans call on President Obama to change the name of the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
By Charles Blatcher
The National Coalition of Black Veterans is pleased to announce the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, in honor of Colonel Charles Young’s exemplary military record and dedication to our country. In recognition of his service, President Barack Obama has declared his home in Wilberforce, Ohio, a national treasure.
Charles Young had a long, distinguished military career. He was the third African-American to graduate from West Point in 1889, and from there he moved up through the ranks. He became a First Lieutenant in 1896, and then in 1898 he was appointed Major in the National Guard. In 1901 he became Captain in the regular army. He was eventually promoted all the way to Colonel in 1917.
At the time of his death in 1922, Col. Charles Young was the highest-ranking African-American in the U.S. Armed Forces. Many people feel that if not for racism, Col. Young would have been promoted to Brigadier General. In addition to reaching the esteemed rank of Colonel, Young was also the first Black superintendent of public lands, overseeing California’s Sequoia National Park. He was also on the faculty at Wilberforce University, Ohio, as a professor of Military Science. His imprint on American history cannot be disputed and we are delighted that the President has bestowed this honor.
The United States military was segregated until 1948, and the term “Buffalo Soldier” first emerged during the period of the Western Expansion to refer to African Americans serving their country. By bestowing Col. Young and his descendants with this honor, the President has made an important first step in providing recognition of an often-overlooked segment of American History—the era of the Buffalo Soldier.
In that spirit, the National Coalition of Black Veterans would like to correct the omission of Charles Young’s military rank from the title of the new National Monument. Instead of calling it the Charles Young Buffalo Soldier National Monument, we are requesting that it be titled “The Brigadier General Charles Young Buffalo Soldier National Monument.”
“The oversight in the title is glaring,” says Coalition Chair, Charles Blatcher. “Charles Young’s life was the military. By omitting his rank from the National Monument, he is disassociated from one of the most important parts of his life and the pride of his service.”
The Coalition has brought the oversight to the attention of President Obama, and has respectfully asked that he include the rank of Brigadier General before Charles Young’s name on the monument’s title. He is entitled in death to carry the military title he earned in life. “It’ll be a great day if he receives this well-deserved promotion,” said Renotta Young, who is related to the Colonel on her grand-father’s side.
We have asked the President to consider granting this honorary promotion for Charles Young to Brigadier General in June. The coalition is planning a commemorative ceremony to honor the Colonel at Arlington National Cemetery on June 5 2013
Finally, we would like to thank the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. for graciously allowing their property to be designated as a National Monument. We commend them for being the thoughtful caretakers of Col. Young’s home for many years and for their ultimate display of wisdom in donating the holdings to the National Park Services.
For additional information contact the Coalition at email address: firstname.lastname@example.org