First Black Army Colonel Receives Posthumous Promotion

Charles Young, the first Black colonel in the US Army, received a posthumous promotion on Friday (April 29), rising to the rank of brigadier general 100 years after his death.

The honorary distinction was made during an official promotion ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point after decades of efforts to get Young promoted. With the retroactive honor, Young is now the first Black American to receive the rank, the Army said.

Young's "promotion today to brigadier general has been a long time delayed, but fortunately for all of us no longer denied," Under Secretary of the Army, Gabe Camarillo said during the ceremony, according to CNN.

Young had been denied the promotion before his death in 1922. It was until 1940 when Benjamin Davis Sr. was promoted to brigadier general that a Black service member received the rank of general.

"Charles Young weathered social isolation not only at West Point but throughout his military and National Parks career," Renotta Young, the great-niece of the honoree, said during remarks at the ceremony.

"While he felt the sharp sting of discriminatory treatment from his classmates here at West Point, at various points in career from his superiors also, he did not consign all of white America to the racist side of the ledger."

Renotta Young noted that it's taken 50 years to get her uncle promoted an effort taken up by Young's family and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated of which Young is an honorary member.

"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," Renotta added.

At the ceremony, Renotta Young accepted her great-uncle's promotion order and certificate along with a gold-plated leather belt worn by general officers and a one-star general flag.

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