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Capital Campaign for Col. Young Monument Begins

WI Staff Report | 4/28/2011, 1:03 a.m.
Buffalo Soldier Col. Charles Young Courtesy Photo  

The National Veterans Coalition recently launched a fundraising initiative to fund a bronze monument of famous Buffalo Soldier Col. Charles Young that will be erected in the District.

When completed, the bronze statue will be the first in the nation to showcase a black military officer on a horse. An excellent equestrian, Col. Young was the highest-ranking African American in all of the U.S. military at the time of his death in 1922; he was denied a promotion because of his race.

"We are pleased to have viable, bi-partisan legislation that will honor Col. Young with Brigadier General status," said Charles Blatcher, III, chairman and chief executive of the national group. "Now we are focusing our energies on funding the cost of the project."

One aspect of the million-dollar capital campaign is a Black History Poetry Poster series featuring tributes to American heroes Crispus Attacks, Frederick Douglass and Col. Charles Young. The set of four posters retails for $55.

Corporate donors who meet financial criteria will receive a limited edition miniature bronze replica of the monument. All donations are tax deductible.

The Veteran's Coalition has commissioned renowned sculptor Antonio Tobias Mendez to create the life-sized statue of Col. Young. Mendez is recognized for producing the bust of Thurgood Marshall at the BWI Airport named in his honor in Baltimore and the statue of Danny Thomas at St. Jude Hospital and Medical Center in Memphis, TN.

The group has agreed in principle to house the monument at the University of the District of Columbia. The Coalition is also proposing to establish a $500,000 scholarship for disadvantaged students.

Bi-partisan support of Col. Young's honorary promotion demonstrates his rightful place in American history, Blatcher said. "It's time for us to redress a time period that wasn't kind to minorities in the military."

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) reintroduced the centerpiece of the Col. Young legislative package that grants him an honorary promotion to the rank of Brigadier General.

A strong supporter of the Coalition's efforts, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) is sponsoring a bill that seeks National Trail Status for the route traveled by Col. Young and the Buffalo Soldiers when they served as stewards of Sequoia National Park.

Congressman Geoff Davis (R-KY) has come aboard as co-sponsor of the legislation to give an honorary promotion to Col. Young. He also supports state efforts to designate Col. Young's birthplace as a landmark.

Congressmen Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO) and Steven Austria (R-Ohio) have jointly proposed a law that grants National Landmark status to Col. Young's adult home in Xenia, OH, allowing the National Park Service to manage and preserve it.

This cooperative effort also includes support from the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and the NAACP. Both groups have previously honored Col. Young for his many achievements.

In 1912, the Omegas selected him as the second honorary member in the fraternity's history. This year the storied, international brotherhood will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

The NAACP presented Col. Young with the Spingarn Award in 1916 for his exceptional work in Liberia. The Civil Rights group annually awards the Spingarn Medal for outstanding achievement by a black American.

For media inquiries and interviews call Brigitte Maxey at (313) 676-0373 or e-mail brigitte.maxey@gmail.com. Go to http://www.colonelcyoung.org/photo.htm for photos.