Army Promotes Charles Young As First Black General Officer 100 Years After His Death

The West Point graduate died in 1922.

Col. Charles Young was a distinguished officer in the United States Army who led a Black regiment of soldiers that patrolled California's Sequoia National Park in 1903. A century after his death, he was promoted to Brigadier General.

According to CNN, during a ceremony on April 29, Young was promoted to the rank of Brig. Gen. by Secretary Army Honorable Christine Wormuth.

United States Military Academy Superintendent, Lt. General Darryl Williams said at the ceremony, “Charles Young’s years at West Point were ones marked by hardship and adversity as he was subject to prejudices and racism at the time from his fellow cadets. But, through his perseverance and determination, along with a quiet dignity and grace, Young overcame that adversity, even earning the respect and admiration from his classmates along the way.”

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Born to enslaved parents in 1864, Young became the third African-American to graduate from West Point in 1889. Prior to his death in 1922, after years of service, he was denied a promotion simply because he was Black. In 1940, Benjamin Davis Sr. became the first Black man promoted to Brigadier general.

Young’s great niece, Renotta Young, told CNN, "While he felt the sharp sting of discriminatory treatment from his classmates here at West Point, at various points in his career from his superiors also, he did not consign all of White America to the racist side of the ledger.”

She also added, "Even though it was long overdue, this was the time it happened, and I think this is the right time for folks to communicate the legacy of his life and what he has done for our country.”

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