XENIA, OH – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today joined U.S. Rep. Steve Austria (R-OH) and Central State University President John W. Garland at the Charles Young House in Xenia to discuss new legislation aimed at designating the Charles P. Young House as a unit of the National Park System. Brown and Austria have 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.
“Colonel Young was a ground-breaking member of the military and a true example of the best of Ohio,” Brown said. “Adding his home to the National Park Service is the least we can do to honor his selflessness and dedication to our country.”
“Colonel Young’s contributions to our community and commitment to our nation are immense,” Austria said. “Our hope is to recognize his achievements in the Senate and House by designating his home as part of the National Park Service so people can learn about his accomplishments and those of other African Americans who served our nation in the military.”
Brown and Austria discussed the Colonel Charles Young Home Study Act, legislation they introduced that 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.
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.