Washington, D.C. (March 25, 2013) – The African American Experience Fund of the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, today proudly joined President of the United States Barack Obama, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, in establishing the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument as a new unit of the National Park System. The monument will preserve the home and post-Civil War military legacy of Col. Charles Young (1864–1922), a distinguished officer in the United States Army who was the third African American to graduate from West Point and the first to achieve the rank of colonel. He was also the first African American to serve as a superintendent of a national park, commanding his regiment, the 9th U.S. Cavalry, assigned to the Presidio in California.
The National Park Foundation provided the necessary financial support through its African American Experience Fund to purchase the historic property from the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s Friendship Foundation. Col. Young was a member of the Omega fraternity. The African American Experience Fund raises funds to preserve and protects our nation’s African American history and the historic sites across our national park system that reflect African American history.
“It is an honor to help bring this historic landmark into its rightful place in the National Park System,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “Col. Charles Young is an indelible figure in our nation’s history and the African American legacy. We are proud to help raise awareness of his remarkable story through this valuable donation.”
With technical real estate support and assistance from the Trust for Public Land, the transaction was completed and the official donation was made to the federal government. Once the land was donated to the federal government, President Obama used the Antiquities Act to create the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument.
“Col. Charles Young was one of the most important military leaders of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with important ties to the National Park System,” said Jonathan B. Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service. “Recognizing his home in Ohio as a national monument will ensure that his contributions to the civil rights movement will be preserved and shared to inspire future generations. We are grateful to our non-profit partner, the National Park Foundation and its African American Experience Fund, whose funding made it possible to protect and preserve this historically significant location as a part of the National Park System.”
“Col. Charles Young’s legacy from military leadership to youth mentoring has now been elevated as a prominent chapter in American history, thanks to preservation efforts that began with the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and concluded with action by President Barack Obama to establish the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument,” said Lydia Sermons, executive director of the National Park Foundation’s African American Experience Fund.
Established in 2001, AAEF's mission is to connect all Americans to the role of African Americans in our country's history by raising funds and establishing partnerships that support the development and awareness of innovative educational, volunteer and community engagement programs at national parks and national historic sites that celebrate and tell the story of African American history and culture. With the addition of this site, AAEF now supports 26 African American heritage sites and territories across the nation including the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, and New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, among other sites. Given the distinct absence of stories related to the accomplishments of African Americans in American history being told across the national park system, AAEF is working with the National Park Service and other partners to increase the preservation of and support for African American history honored in our national parks. By visiting these sites future generations will learn about our diverse history and experience some of our most magnificent cultural treasures.
Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument is located in Wilberforce, Ohio, approximately 25 miles east of Dayton. The site is not currently open to the public. For more information, visit the Charles Young National Monument website at www.nps.gov/chyo.
ABOUT THE AFRICAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE FUND
Established in 2001, and governed by a distinguished Board of Trustees, the African American Experience Fund (AAEF), a program of the National Park Foundation, is dedicated to protecting, preserving and telling the stories of the natural, cultural, and historical legacies of African Americans within the national park system. Learn more at www.aaexperience.org.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, raises private funds that directly aid, support and enrich America’s nearly 400 national parks and their programs. Chartered by Congress as the nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation plays a critical role in conservation and preservation efforts, establishing national parks as powerful learning environments, and giving all audiences an equal and abundant opportunity to experience, enjoy and support America’s treasured places. www.nationalparks.org.