Charles Young, the first Black U.S. Army colonel, was on Friday promoted to brigadier general in an official ceremony that was held at the United States Military Academy at West Point, According to CNN, Young’s promotion comes 100 years after his death.
The trailblazing military man’s career was reportedly hampered by racism at the time. And he was denied promotion prior to his death in 1922. The army said Young’s recent promotion now makes him the first Black American to earn the rank of brigadier general.
During the ceremony, Under Secretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo said Young’s promotion “has been a long time delayed, but fortunately for all of us no longer denied.” Camarillo also referred to Young as a “model leader” and said his legacy was “frankly inspiring.”
The ceremony was attended by Young’s family, and his posthumous honorary promotion order and certificate were presented to his great-niece Renotta Young. She also received a gold-plated leather belt that is worn by general officers and a one-star general officer flag.
“Charles Young weathered social isolation not only at West Point but throughout his military and National Parks career,” Renotta Young said at the ceremony. She also added that her uncle, however, “managed to love” the American experiment despite his negative experiences.
“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 said.
The campaign to have Young promoted was spearheaded by his family as well as the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., per CNN. “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 Young said.