YOUNG, CHARLES Born on March 12, 1864 in Mays Lick, Kentucky, Charles Young went on to become the first American black to become a full colonel in the U. S. Army. Graduating from West Point in 1889, Young was commissioned a second lieutenant in the all-black 10th Cavalry. In 1894, he was assigned to Wilberforce University in Ohio as an instructor of military science, being promoted to first lieutenant two years later. In 1901 he became a captain and in 1916 he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel, seeing action in the Philippines during the Filipino Insurrection (1901-03) and Mexico (1916) in the meantime.
At the outbreak of World War I, Young was the highest ranking black officer in the U. S. Army. He was in line for a promotion to brigadier-general, but the southern-dominated military hierarchy as well as the Wilson Administration were reluctant to make such a move. Instead, Young was called in for a routine physical examination and as the result of alleged high blood pressure was ordered to retire from the service as a full colonel on June 22, 1917. Following the war, Young traveled to Africa and was instrumental in the reorganization of the Liberian Army. He died in Africa in early 1922 while participating in a research expedition to northern Nigeria. His body was returned to the United States in 1923 for burial in Arlington National Cemetery.