A century after his death, Charles Young, the first Black person to be a colonel in the U.S. Army, was promoted posthumously to brigadier general, retroactively making him the first Black person to be given that rank, according to CNN.
Young’s career in the army was restricted because of the outward racism that occurred at the time which did not allow him to be promoted.
After years of trying to posthumously promote Young, he was the focus of an official promotion ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point last week, according to CNN.
After Young was passed over for promotion before his death in 1922, a Black service member wouldn’t join the general officers rank in the Army until Benjamin Davis Sr. was promoted to brigadier general in 1940.
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 Friday in remarks during the ceremony. Camarillo also praised Young as a “model leader” and called his legacy “frankly inspiring.”
Members of Young’s family were in attendance at the ceremony, including his great-niece Renotta Young, who was presented with Young’s posthumous honorary promotion order and certificate, a gold-plated leather belt that general officers wear, and a one-star general officer flag.
Renotta Young, Charles Young’s great-niece, said it’s taken 50 years to get her uncle promoted to brigadier general. The effort to get Charles promoted was conducted by his family and Omega Psi Phu Fraternity, Inc, in which Charles was an honorary member, according to CNN.
Renotta told 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.”