WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced legislation today to incorporate the Wilberforce home of Colonel Charles Young into the National Park System. Brown and Portman introduced similar legislation last Congress.
“Colonel Young was a ground-breaking member of the military and a true example of the best of Ohio,” Brown said. “Adding this home into the National Park System is an appropriate honor for this dedicated, selfless, and trailblazing American.”
“As we commemorate Black History month, it’s only fitting that we honor the life and valor of Colonel Young,” said Portman. “His tremendous academic and wartime achievements have served as an inspiration to others, and associating his house with the National Park Service will further preserve his rich legacy.”
“I applaud and thank Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman for introducing legislation to incorporate the Col. Charles Young Home into the National Park System,” Xenia Mayor Marsha Bayless said. “It is a great honor for our community that the home of this outstanding first African-American to reach the rank of Colonel be recognized and honored; preserving a vital landmark of our local rich history in this Wilberforce-Xenia area.”
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. Colonel Charles Young was the third African-American to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1889. 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.
Young was 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, the capital of British 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.
Colonel Young’s home is located on U.S. Route 42 in Wilberforce and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974. 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 nominates new landmarks and provides assistance to existing landmarks.