WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) renewed his call to include the Charles P. Young House in the National Park System (NPS). A representative of Brown’s office met with National Park Service officials at the Ohio Historical Society today. Brown introduced legislation that would commemorate and honor Colonel Charles Young, a distinguished military veteran and the first African American to be named superintendent of a national park.
“So much of our nation’s history comes through Ohio – from the Northwest Territory to the Underground Railroad, from presidents and poets. It’s only fitting that the home of the first African American superintendent of a National Park, now be part of the very park system that he helped support and strengthen,” Brown said. “By designating the Charles P. Young House as part of the National Park System, this historic home would receive additional resources for maintenance and upkeep, ensuring the preservation of this historic home.”
The bipartisan Colonel Charles Young Home Study Act would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study to determine if the Colonel Charles Young home in Xenia should be included in the National Park System (NPS). The study would consider architecture and archeological resources of the home – as well as consider alternative preservation and protection plans. Typically, Congress authorizes special resources studies to determine if sites should be designated as a unit of the National Park Service. There are less than 400 National Park sites nationwide and less than 20 percent of all resource studies recommend in this finding. This designation means that the property would be federally owned and operated. Brown joined U.S. Rep. Steve Austria (R-OH) and Central State University President John W. Garland at the Charles Young House in Xenia in April 2011 to discuss the bill.
Charles Young was born to ex-slaves in Mays Lick, Kentucky in 1864. His father, Gabriel, served in the Union Army during the Civil War. In 1889, Young was the third African American to graduate from U.S. Military Academy at West Point. A Buffalo Soldier serving with the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 25th Infantry, Young eventually became the first African American to achieve the rank of Colonel in the United States Army.
In 1903 Young was appointed superintendent of the Sequoia and Genera Grant National Parks in California. He was the first African American to hold the post of National Park Superintendent.
Young returned to active duty in 1918 and was promoted to Colonel. He was later appointed United States military attaché to Liberia. Colonel Charles Young died in 1922 while visiting Lagos, Nigeria. His body was returned to the United States in 1923 and interred at Arlington National Cemetery. The eulogy was delivered by his friend, W.E. B. DuBois.
Col. Young’s home is located on U.S. Route 42 in Wilberforce. National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior. They must possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this national distinction. The National Park Service staff nominate new landmarks and provide assistance to existing landmarks.