Colonel Charles Young was many thingsa diplomat, an educator, a Buffalo Soldier-- and his legacy lives on through all the African-American soldiers, colonels, and generals that came after him. The statuette serves as a model for the monument the Coalition has been working to erect in Washington, D.C., and was designed by renowned sculptor Antonio Tobias Mendez. Once erected, the work will stand as the first depiction of an African-American military officer on horseback.
The Coalition of Black Veterans has been working diligently to get Col. Young an honorary promotion to Brigadier General, and this event has brought them one step closer to their goal with the help of dedicated public servants like Rep. Barbara Lee. I will continue to fight for Colonel Youngs honorary promotion, she said in a statement through her Deputy Director, Katherine Jolly, to ensure that his sacrifice, dedication, and service are recognized in full.
The Coalition has taken its fight all the way to the White House, and has been awaiting a response from President Barack Obama pertaining to the requested promotion and whether he will accept a casting of the maquette as a gift to the nation from the Black Veterans Coalition. The maquette is worthy of a place in the White House, says Chairman of the Coalition, Charles Blatcher III. It is a magnificent work of art that symbolizes the dedication and honor of Black participation in the Armed Forces during an era in American History that should not be overlooked or forgotten.
Blatcher, the Keynote Speaker at the unveiling, noted the importance of recognizing not only great men like Young, but the contributions of all black soldiers. The obvious racial injustices committed against black soldiers in the separate but not equal Armed Forces is a subject that begs for historical redress, he said to the crowd. Colonel Charles Young became the standard bearer for the cause.
Charles Young was born in 1864 to enslaved parents, yet he became the third African-American to graduate from West Point. He then rose through the military ranks and became the first black American to be promoted to Colonel, in 1918. In addition to his exemplary military record, Young became the nations first black military attach? to a foreign government, and he served as the Superintendent of Sequoia National Park. Colonel Young continues to be an inspiration to this day, said Golden Gate Recreation Area Superintendent Frank Dean, through his leadership as a proactive superintendent of Sequoia National Park he protected the majestic Sequoia trees from poachers, while building the trail to Mt. Whitney.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee cited the important message to the next generation about the significance of African-American trailblazers like Colonel Young. I am truly inspired, she said.
The Coalition invites you to learn more about this exemplary American and enjoy the maquette of Col. Young as it remains in residence at the Oakland African-American Museum and Library.