LaToya Cantrell elected first female mayor of New Orleans

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New Orleans voters elected LaToya Cantrell as mayor Saturday, making her the first woman to hold that position in the city’s 300-year history.

Cantrell, a city councilwoman, got 60% of the votes over her opponent, former municipal court Judge Desiree Charbonnet, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office.

“We deserve better and together we truly will be better,” Cantrell told supporters Sunday morning.

“This victory is not about LaToya Cantrell, this campaign did not start about self. It only started with and has been rooted in the people of the city of New Orleans.”

The two women earned spots for Saturday’s runoff election after the October general election. Cantrell, an activist-turned-politician, will succeed Mayor Mitch Landrieu in May as the city marks the 300th anniversary of its founding.

“Congratulations to our very own District “B” Councilmember LaToya Cantrell, our city’s first elected female mayor!” the New Orleans City Council tweeted.

Cantrell, 45, grew up in California and moved to New Orleans to attend the Xavier University of Louisiana. She rose to prominence as a neighborhood activist in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

After the historic flood, officials considered turning Cantrell’s neighborhood into parkland but it caused an uproar among residents. Cantrell, who was the president of the Broadmoor Improvement Association, organized protests and helped rebuild the neighborhood.

She won a seat in the New Orleans’ city council in 2012, and was re-elected in 2014. During her time in office, she has led the passage of an ordinance that prohibits smoking in bars, casinos and most public spaces in New Orleans, as well as taken part in an initiative to make the city more diverse.

Continue onto CNN to read the complete article.

BECOMING – OFFICIAL TRAILER

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MIchelle Obama book jacket cover

BECOMING is an intimate look into the life of former First Lady Michelle Obama during a moment of profound change, not only for her personally but also for the country she and her husband served over eight impactful years in the White House.

The film offers a rare and up-close look at her life, taking viewers behind the scenes as she embarks on a 34-city tour that highlights the power of community to bridge our divides and the spirit of connection that comes when we openly and honestly share our stories.

Film Release Date: May 6, 2020
Format: Original Documentary Feature

Directed by: Nadia Hallgren
Produced by: Katy Chevigny,
Marilyn Ness, & Lauren Cioffi
Co-Producer: Maureen A. Ryan
Executive Producers:
Priya Swaminathan & Tonia Davis

A NOTE FROM MICHELLE
I’m excited to let you know that on May 6, Netflix will release BECOMING, a documentary film directed by Nadia Hallgren that looks at my life and the experiences I had while touring following the release of my memoir. Those months I spent traveling—meeting and connecting with people in cities across the globe—drove home the idea that what we share in common is deep and real and can’t be messed with.

In groups large and small, young and old, unique and united, we came together and shared stories, filling those spaces with our joys, worries, and dreams.

*BECOMING is the third release from Higher Ground Productions and Netflix*

To view the documentary now available on Netflix visit, netflix.com/Becoming.

#IAmBecoming

Former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume Wins Seat Held By Late Congressman Elijah Cummings

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Kweisi Mfume headshot

It’s finally official. Former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume will finish the term of the late Democratic congressman Elijah Cummings after winning an election for his Maryland seat Tuesday.

In a special election structured around a largely mail-in vote, Mfume, who led the NAACP from 1996 to 2004, beat Republican Kimberly Klacik for the heavily Democratic 7th Congressional District, which Cummings had held from 1996 until his death last October.

Mfume had held the seat for a decade prior to Cummings being elected, but resigned to lead the NAACP.

Mfume, 71, acknowledged that voters cast their ballots in the shadow of the gripping coronavirus pandemic which has sharply affected the district, including much of Baltimore.

“To them, to their families and to the families of so many others who have lost lives prematurely to this disease,” Mfume said in his address after winning, according to the Associated Press. “I want all of you to know that from day one, all of my attention, all of my energy and all of my focus in the United States Congress will be on using science, data and common sense to help get our nation through this dark hour in our history.”

Only three polling stations were open to voters because of social distancing measures. Ballots were otherwise sent weeks in advance for mail-in voting. The strategy was an alternative to voting practices a few weeks ago in the Wisconsin primary several weeks ago when voters were forced to stand in lines for hours to cast ballots, putting them at higher risk for coronavirus spread.

Continue on to BET to read the complete article.

Four-Star General Nominated To Become First African American Chief Of The Air Force

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Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. in uniform speaking into microphone to an audience

Nominated by the Trump administration, Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. could be the first African-American chief of staff for the United States Air Force. “I am truly honored and humbled by the nomination to serve as the Air Force’s 22nd Chief of Staff,” he said. “If confirmed, Sharene and I look forward to building upon the legacy of Gen. Dave and Dawn Goldfein and the many airpower giants before who have served our Air Force and our nation with such dedication.”

Brown would also reportedly become the first African American to lead any military branch and hold the title as the first African American Pentagon leader since the 1993 retirement of Army General, Colin Powell, according to the Daily Mail.

Brown is a four-star F-16 pilot who served in combat tours in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

“[Brown] will take command of an Air Force in transition, one moving from a decades-long priority on combating and containing terrorism to a new era of Great Power Competition,” said the Air Force.

Brown will be the highest-ranking officer in the Air Force, responsible for overseeing all units in the military branch.

He will sit alongside the Joint Chief of Staff in the Department of Defense that counsels the secretary of defense, the Homeland Security Council, the National Security Council, and the President on military affairs.

Continue on to BET to read the complete article.

As she becomes Pasadena PD’s first African American deputy chief, Cheryl Moody adds to a long list of achievements

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Commander Cheryl Moody from the Pasadena Police Department pose with an award she received during black history parade festival. Cheryl is one of the founding members of the San Gabriel Valley Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) which started in 2003. Photo by James Carbone

The law enforcement career of Pasadena Police Department Commander Cheryl Moody has been marked by a series of “firsts.” And with each milestone, Moody has been asked to take on more responsibility and higher levels of leadership.

As Pasadena PD prepares for its first major reorganization in decades, Moody is being promoted to acting deputy chief, making the 27-year veteran of the department the first African American woman to hold the position.

When Moody was promoted from lieutenant to commander five years ago, she was Pasadena PD’s first ever African American female commander.

As acting deputy chief, Moody will help spearhead the reorganization.

If all goes well, the “acting” part of the title will disappear and she will hold the title of deputy chief.

“We’re looking forward to her meeting those expectations and getting it done and providing something that we need here … from her perspective and experience,” Police Chief John Perez said. “She is in the position and getting it done. Now that she is deputy chief, we’re looking for more from her.”

Moody is up for the challenge and why shouldn’t she be?

She’s been taking on challenges since being a kid, growing up in Long Beach on what she described as “the rough side of town.”

Even then, Moody said she could see life from the perspective of the police, who were a common site in her neighborhood, and the residents, some who weren’t always making the best choices.

Moody joined the Air Force after getting an ultimatum from her parents – either go to college or join the military.

“So I went into the military,” she said. “I didn’t want to go to college.”

Fast forward a few years and now Moody is a single mother raising two sons.

She was drawn to a career in law enforcement in 1992, when working for the Long Beach Police Department as a fingerprint classifier – a non-sworn position.

“I started watching the officers in the building and reading reports and I said I too can do this job because I want to help people,” Moody said. “I could see how people were being victimized and I’ve seen it growing up in my own experiences. So I wanted to go into law enforcement to make a difference.”

When she was hired by Pasadena PD at age 32, Moody was one of the older cadets going through rigorous police academy.

Just before getting off probation, Moody was assigned to Pasadena PD’s gang unit

“Because I had grown up around gang members, I didn’t have a problem interacting with them,” said Moody was one of two women in the 20-person unit. “They didn’t frighten me. It was just part of the community I grew up in.”

Cocaine use had been running rampant at the time, and Moody worked undercover as both a drug buyer and drug dealer.

She also worked undercover posing as a street walker during prostitution stings.

“It was hard to keep my composure when these guys would say things or try and do things,” Moody said. “It was hard to stay undercover in that capacity.”

Continue on to Behind the Badge to read the complete article.

MLK Day 2020: What to know about the civil rights icon’s legacy

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Martin Luther King JR day sign illustration

As the country observes Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, the civil rights icon’s daughter is challenging people to continue his fight to achieve what he called “a beloved community.”

While King was just 39 years old when an assassin took his life in Memphis in 1968, his legacy of change through nonviolent protest is as relevant as ever, Dr. Bernice King said at a news conference announcing events to commemorate the holiday.

As she celebrates what would have been her father’s 91st birthday this month, she said the world is in desperate need to follow his example, noting that the United States is in the throes of a gun-violence epidemic, has come to the brink of war with Iran and is enduring a crisis in Washington that has led to the impeachment of the president.

“Considering the current condition of our collective conscious and the pressing need to work toward the ‘beloved community,’ it is fitting that this year’s King holiday observance theme is, ‘King 2020 Vision — The Beloved Community: The Fierce Urgency of Now’,” she announced at the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia, standing in front of a blown-up photo of her father and mother, Coretta Scott King.

The theme for the holiday is derived from King’s 1967 book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”

Quoting from her father’s book, Bernice King said, “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted by the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.”

“We don’t want to be too late,” she said.

Bernice King encouraged people to spend the day being of service to their communities and embracing her father’s “teachings in creating a more just, peaceful and humane world.”

Continue on to Good Morning America to read the complete article.

Blood, Sweat, Gloves: Soldier Punches Way to Success

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Mays holds up gloves in a punching manner toward the punching bag

By Staff Sgt. Neysa Canfield

Puddles of sweat begin to form as the sound of 50-ounce gloves hitting a punching bag echo throughout the gym. A buzzer goes off. That’s the signal to the drenched-in-sweat Sgt. Larry Mays that the warmup has ended and the real workout is about to begin.

The unit supply NCO with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, used that warmup routine to help earn first place in the Colorado Golden Gloves heavyweight division in April.

“It’s a prestigious tournament that the state of Colorado holds on a yearly basis,” explained Mays. “I’ve been training since October of last year and it’s exciting to see that all my hard work paid off.”

Even though the Lambert, Mississippi, native began his training for the Colorado tournament in October, his journey with the sport started much earlier.

“I started fighting (when) I was in elementary school. I started with (mixed martial arts), taekwondo and Jiu-Jitsu,” said Mays. “I kept fighting as a way to stay in shape and relieve stress.”

While training in those combat sports, Mays’ coach recommended he try boxing as a way to help him with his MMA skills.

“I pretty much fell in love with (boxing) after that and never went back to MMA,” he explained. “It’s not an easy sport, but I love that there is always a challenge and something new to learn.”

Although boxing was a big part of his life, Mays said he found himself working odd jobs and bringing little income into his household.

With encouragement from his coaches, friends and Family members, Mays enlisted in the Army in 2012.

“I wanted to get out of Mississippi and I always wanted to join the military, so it was the perfect time to make that change,” said Mays.

He learned to adapt quickly to the military lifestyle.

“To me, my mindset with boxing and my military career are very similar,” he said. “You have to stay disciplined, have a clear and strong mind, and never back down from a fight.”

His ability to stay committed to his passion of boxing and effectively balance his career and Family life began to inspire other Soldiers in his unit.

“I would see him working long hours, helping his Soldiers and then still see him going to the gym after work to train—that’s dedication,” said 1st Lt. Wilbert Paige, platoon leader, HHC, 704th BSB, 2nd IBCT. “He is a great example, not only to the junior Soldiers in the company but to everyone, from top to bottom.”

Paige added that he hopes to see Mays in the “big leagues” in the future.

“He is a great example of what not quitting, putting in hard work and staying dedicated to your goals looks like,” said Paige. “He is the type of person who can do whatever he puts his mind to, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.”

With the support of his family and now his unit, Mays said he hopes to continue boxing and to ultimately do it professionally.

“This road of life I am on is kind of falling into place, I have come a long way,” said Mays. “I just want to be the guy who made it from nothing. I want to be the best Soldier, best NCO and best boxer I can be.”

He hopes others see his journey as a way to encourage themselves to follow their dreams, Mays added.

“I want to be an inspiration to not only Soldiers but to everyone,” he said. “You have to look at every day like a fight. Keep pushing even when you might be falling down because you can’t expect good things to happen if you don’t even try.”

Source: army.mil

Photo Credit: Mays STAFF SGT. NEYSA CANFIELD

Brothers Keep Family Tradition of Army Service

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Three Stovell brothers pose for photo at their training site in Saudi Arabia, 26 June 2019. From left to right: Staff Sgt. Daniel Stovell, Staff Sgt. Daryl Stovell, and Sgt.1st Class Davin Stovell. All three work as training instructors for the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command's Military Assistance Group that advises the Saudi Ministry of Interior. Called MOI-MAG, the DoD program teaches Saudi security forces how to defend their country's critical infrastructure sites like ports, airports, bridges, oil pipeline and refineries. (U.S. Army photo by Richard Bumgardner)

By Richard Bumgardner, USASAC

In 2018, when Sgt. 1st Class Davin Stovell saw a job posted on the Army’s Tour of Duty website, he knew it was tailor fit, not only for himself, but also for his two brothers, Staff Sgts. Daryl and Daniel Stovell.Pictured from left, Staff Sgt. Daniel Stovell, Staff Sgt. Daryl Stovell and Sgt. 1st Class Davin Stovell.

“It was like the advertisement was a list of our qualifications and life experiences,” Davin said, who, like his three brothers and two sisters, grew up as military kids.

The three Stovell brothers, full-time members of the Los Angeles Police Department, who were once in the National Guard and now Army Reserve, applied and were soon accepted.

Davin, who enlisted as an active-duty Army infantryman in 1995, and his brothers, who joined post 9/11, follow a proud military family tradition and legacy of service to the Army.

Five generations of the Stovell family tree have worn Army colors, starting with their great-grandfather, the first Stovell to wear an Army uniform. Their grandfather served in Korea, and their father, Donell Sr., did two combat tours to Vietnam.

A fourth older brother is in the Army Reserve, and their older sister is deployed overseas with the Mississippi National Guard. The family has not only served in the Army but has also served in every Army component.

Altogether, the five generations have completed nine combat tours, with more on the way before their duty to country and service in the Army is complete.

Davin, Daryl and Daniel are serving as military training advisers, assigned to Security Assistance Command’s Ministry of Interior-Military Assistance Group, based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. As a subordinate organization of USASAC, MOI-MAG’s mission is to build partner readiness that ultimately enhances regional security.

Collectively, the three brothers have already given more than 80 years of public service: 53 in the military and 26 as police officers with the LAPD. And they’re not done yet.

The MOI-MAG program is the only program in the world where a U.S. Department of Defense organization has a train-and-advise partnership with another country’s Ministry of Interior. One of the primary missions of MOI-MAG personnel – who are Army reservists – is training the Facilities Security Force that protect the country’s civil structures and facilities, much like what the U.S. government’s Department of Homeland Security does.

For the Stovell brothers, teaching defensive techniques to a partner force is natural fit. All are trained drill instructors. All have backgrounds in infantry. All have served on deployments in places such as Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, Panama, Germany and Australia. Altogether they have served four combat tours in Iraq.

“Ultimately, it will make the FSF soldiers better at what they do,” Davin said. “We’re trying to give them as much training as we can; training like how to handle a weapon, reflexive fire, clearing a building, establishing a checkpoint, how to do a patrol, conducting vehicle searches at an entry control, and even how to protect themselves if they are physically attacked.”

For Watson, having three brothers, all highly experienced noncommissioned officers, on his team is an interesting story, but he said, “I think what makes it a better story is that the three brothers that I have working for me are fantastic instructors; they are doing an extraordinary job of making FSF soldiers better at what they do.”

Source: army.mil

After Careers With U.S. Armed Forces And Fema This Couple Opens Their Own Business

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McDuffie,Sharron, Rodney, Lee's Summit, MO

After Rodney and Sharron McDuffie retired from long and successful careers that included both the U.S. Armed Forces and the U.S. Government, the Raymore couple was looking for an attractive business opportunity to bolster their pension income.

So on April 15, Rodney, “61 years young,” and Sharron, “59 years younger,” as they note, officially opened for business as franchise owners with Floor Coverings International, whose representatives visit customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Floor Coverings International Lee’s Summit serves customers throughout greater Kansas City.

Sharron retired after 30 years with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), where she was a Technological Hazards Specialist assigned to several nuclear power plants throughout Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. Rodney retired from the U.S. Navy with 25 years as a Yeoman Administrator before joining the Department of Immigration, where he spent more than a decade before retiring as an Immigration Supervisor this past February. “We had started talking about what we would be doing in life with retirement approaching and looking forward to living the lifestyle we were comfortable in after more than 30 years working for the government,” Sharron said. “And we were not sure that once we retired on a government pension, if it would be enough. We are still pretty young and in good health, so we started looking for a business we could purchase that also offered plenty of flexibility, such as being able to work from home when we wanted to.”

In Floor Coverings International, the McDuffies found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations.

The McDuffies are also very excited about having the opportunity for their children to play a role in the business. Their oldest son, who just earned his master’s degree in Public Affairs, is “more excited than my husband and myself,” said Sharron, while their youngest son, who just graduated from high school, is looking forward to joining one of their flooring installation teams where he will gain the necessary experience to later become a Project Manager or Design Associate. A daughter, currently a middle school biology teacher, might join the business as an office manager or Design Associate while her husband is assisting with local marketing. “Since we have been up and running, the whole family is seeing what a great opportunity it is by joining or just participating in this family business,” Sharron said.

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

Naval Veteran And Realtor Brings Number One Home Inspection Company To Norfolk

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Demetrius Payne posing in front of his Home Inspection van

(NORFOLK, VA)- Demetrius Payne knows how to use his expertise and skills. After serving in the Navy for 10 years, he then went on to operate a testing facility for aircraft carriers and submarines for 11 years! Interesting background to say the least, but practical Payne decided to become a licensed Realtor a year ago. In September he added a Pillar To Post Home Inspectors® franchise and training to round out the tremendous services he can offer home buyers and sellers.

Payne serves homebuyers and sellers throughout Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Southampton and Franklin City. The franchise brand is a favorite among veterans such as Payne. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is a member of VetFran, a program of the International Franchise Association that helps vets purchase franchises and it has achieved 5-star status in that program, the top ranking possible. In 2018, one-third of new Pillar To Post Home Inspectors franchisees were military vets. “I was impressed by the level of commitment Pillar To Post Home Inspectors makes to its franchisees,” Payne said. “My previous careers have taught me leadership, professionalism and customer service skills. My real estate experience helps me understand the ins and outs of homes.”

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors, is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. Consistently ranked as the top-rated home inspection company on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise500®, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is enjoying its 19th year in a row on that list.

A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report that is printed and presented on site. All information is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

For more information visit: demetriuspayne.pillartopost.com or call 757-234-8566.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are nearly 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has been named as Best in Category in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® ranking for 19 years in a row. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit pillartopostfranchise.com.

Who is Stacey Abrams?

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Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate who narrowly lost the race for Georgia governor in 2018, will deliver the Democrats’ rebuttal to President Trump’s State of the Union address Feb. 5. The response is traditionally delivered by member of Congress or a sitting governor, making Abrams an intriguing choice given that she doesn’t currently hold a political office. However, as a progressive black woman who was defeated by one of Mr. Trump’s endorsed candidates, party leaders may be hoping that she can deliver a speech which demonstrates the stark differences between Republicans and Democrats.

Biography

Abrams, who is one of six siblings, was born in 1973 in Wisconsin, although her family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, during her childhood. Both of her parents later became Methodist ministers. Abrams graduated from Spelman College, a historically black liberal arts college for women in Atlanta, and studied public policy at the University of Texas at Austin as a Harry S. Truman Scholar. Abrams received her law degree from Yale Law School in 1999.

While serving as a private tax attorney, Abrams was appointed the Deputy City Attorney for Atlanta at age 29. She was elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 2006, and became the first black woman to serve as minority leader in 2011. She became known for her ability to work across the aisle, and worked with GOP Gov. Nathan Deal on criminal justice reforms, public transportation packages and a scholarship for low-income Georgia students.

Gubernatorial race

In 2018, Abrams ran for governor of Georgia. She prevailed in a primary against Stacey Evans in part because she opted to focus on drawing out like-minded liberal voters instead of attempting to broaden her appeal to swing voters. The strategy was an outgrowth of her work with the New Georgia Project, an officially nonpartisan organization she helped establish that registered tens of thousands of mostly minority voters across the state beginning during the 2014 election cycle.

Abrams was defeated by Republican Brian Kemp in November. She initially did not concede the race to Kemp, due to concerns over voting irregularities, but acknowledged that Kemp had won later in the month. If she had won, Abrams would have been the first black female governor in the country. She remains a popular politician among Democrats, and a leader on the grassroots left. In late November, the Abrams-backed group Fair Fight Action filed a federal lawsuit challenging the way Georgia’s elections are run.

To read the complete article, head to CBS News.

Cory Booker Announces Run For President In 2020

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Democratic Sen. Cory Booker is running for president in 2020.

The junior senator from New Jersey announced his bid Friday in a video to supporters.

“I believe that we can build a country where no one is forgotten, no one is left behind … where we see the faces of our leaders on television and feel pride, not shame,” Booker said. “Together, we will channel our common pain back into our common purpose. Together, America, we will rise.”

For the complete article, continue on to Huffington Post.

First Black Colonel: Charles Young

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Charles Young was born into slavery in a two-room log cabin in Mays Lick, Ky., on March 12, 1864. His father Gabriel later fled to freedom and in 1865 enlisted as a private in the 5th Regiment, U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery. His father’s enhanced status as a “Grand Army man” impressed Charles as he grew up in Ripley, Ohio.The son was sent to an all-black elementary school, but he was able to attend Ripley’s integrated high school and graduated at the top of his class in 1881. Two years later, at the urging of his father, he took the West Point entrance examination. Twenty-year-old Young scored well, received the required nomination from Ohio’s 12th District Congressman Alphonso Hart and reported to the U.S. Military Academy in June 1884. He was the ninth black American admitted to West Point; he would be the third to graduate with a commission as a second lieutenant.

Young had a miserable time at West Point. Charles Rhodes, a white cadet in Young’s class, remembered him as “a rather awkward, overgrown lad, large-boned and robust in physique, and of a nervous, impulsive temperament.” Rhodes recalled that Young’s “life was lonesome” at West Point––hardly a surprise, as most white cadets refused to associate with blacks and subjected them to racial slurs, cruel slights and hostile treatment beyond the normal hazing.

Young considered quitting West Point after his first year, but his father convinced him to stay—though it took Young five years to complete the curriculum. He had difficulty with engineering but excelled in languages, gaining a working knowledge of Latin, Greek, French, Spanish and German. His decision to persevere was a source of pride for him, and he accepted that “duty, honor, country” must be the foundation of his life as an officer. But Young later advised a young black man interested in attending West Point that he could expect “a dog’s life there.”

Young graduated last in his 49-member class in 1889, and from 1894 until 1936 he was the lone black West Point graduate in the Army.

Assigned to the predominantly black 9th U.S. Cavalry (aka “buffalo soldiers”), Young served in Nebraska and Utah in the early 1890s before reporting to Wilberforce University, near Dayton, Ohio, as professor of military science and tactics. While at Wilberforce, Young befriended W.E.B. Du Bois, a classics professor who would become one of the leading black American intellectuals of the early 20th century. After leaving Wilberforce, Du Bois and Young continued to correspond, and Du Bois considered Young one of the “talented tenth”—those individuals whom Du Bois and other prominent black intellectuals believed would lead the struggle for racial justice in America.

Young’s patience, discipline and hard work paid off when the United States declared war on Spain in April 1898. On May 13 of that year Ohio Governor Asa S. Bushnell appointed 1st Lt. Young a brevet major in command of the 9th Battalion Ohio Volunteers, an all-black unit. While the major and his men remained stateside, Young gained valuable command experience.

At war’s end Young returned briefly to Wilberforce University before rejoining the 9th Cavalry at Fort Duchesne, Utah. While in command of I Troop, 1st Lt. Young (he had reverted to his permanent rank) learned that one of his men, Sgt. Maj. Benjamin O. Davis, wanted to apply for a commission. Young tutored Davis for the competitive examination and wrote a glowing letter of recommendation. In early 1901 Davis passed the test and was commissioned a second lieutenant. He never forgot Young’s help, particularly after becoming the first black American to reach the rank of general.

In February 1901 Young was promoted to captain in the Regular Army—another first for a black man. Two months later Young and I Troop sailed for the Philippines with the rest of the 9th Cavalry. Stationed on Samar, Young and his men fought the Filipino insurrectos in the jungles of the island’s rugged interior. During one operation Young was leading a scouting party when it came under attack. “Captain Young had fired his revolver so fast,” a corporal later recalled, “that the sight was blown off.” Young then took another officer’s pistol and kept firing at the enemy until reinforcements arrived. Such instances of combat leadership earned Young the moniker “Follow Me” from his men, who vowed they would give their lives for him. The 9th Cavalry returned stateside in late 1902.

In May 1903, 39-year-old Captain Young, three other officers and 93 enlisted soldiers left the Presidio of San Francisco for Sequoia and General Grant national parks in north-central California. In the years before the 1916 creation of the National Park Service, the Army ran America’s national parks. The War Department detailed junior officers to the Department of the Interior to serve as acting superintendents during the summer. These assignments were always short-lived; the officers never served for more than two consecutive seasons. Consequently, little was expected.

But Young threw himself into his new job. He took charge of the payroll accounts and directed the activities of the park rangers. He stopped the illegal grazing of sheep in the park’s meadows. Young had his men dig firebreaks and place fences around the giant sequoias to protect them from root damage. The men also began work on a major project: completing a road to the Giant Forest, the park’s major attraction. Civilian crews had completed two-thirds of the road during the past few seasons. Young and his troopers finished it in two months and added another two miles to the road, going on to complete an unfinished road to the town of Visalia, seven miles farther west.

Read more about Charles’ life on History Net.

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