The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers


Colonel Charles Young,[1]U.S. Military Attaché, to Charles S. Cuney[2]

My dear old ship-mate,

[ . . . ][3] You would be surprised to find how Garvey has worked up an interest in his scheme all along the West Coast especially in Freetown, Sierra Leone and Monrovia. I hope he will put some business methods in it and all possible guarantees about the people's capital. It would be a darned shame for the project to fail now.
Any all-black proposition well financed will and cannot fail of success in Africa.
Race Consciousness is just that strong. But it must be prepared to fight the machinations and commercial supremacy of the white man.
All Africa is in the throes of the World's unrest. Only God know[s] whither it leads, but I trust to betterment. But one thing is certain and that is it will never be simply pickings for the white man alone, while the African that does the work goes half-fed and half-clothed. [ . . . ][4] Lovingly your friend,
Chas. Young
DLC, CGW, box 10. ALS, recipient's copy. Text abridged.
    
[1] Charles Young (1864–1922), the foremost African-American military figure of his time, was U.S. military attaché at Monrovia, Liberia, in the early 1920s. Born in Kentucky of former slave parents, Young was raised in Ohio. He taught school briefly and then went to West Point, graduating in 1889 as a second lieutenant. He served at various posts in the U.S. and, in 1901, was promoted to captain and transferred to the Philippines. From 1904 to 1907 he served in Haiti as military attaché and returned to duty in the Philippines in 1908. After a tour of duty in the U.S., Young was persuaded by Booker T. Washington to take the position of military attaché in Liberia. In 1912 he sailed for Liberia, where he helped reorganize the Liberian Frontier Force. Returning to the U.S. in 1915, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and awarded the Spingarn Medal the following year. Young participated in Brig. Gen. John Pershing's 1916 Mexican campaign, yet at its conclusion he was denied an opportunity to serve in World War I. In 1917 he was forced to retire from active duty for medical reasons and was then promoted to full colonel. In 1918 Young was recalled to active duty and in 1919 sent to Liberia as an adviser at the request of the State Department. He died in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1922, while on an inspection visit to the British colony. In 1923 Harlem hosted a large parade in his honor, sponsored by the Charles Young Post of the American Legion, with W. E. B. Du Bois as a principal speaker (NW, 17 March 1923; DANB).
    
[2] Charles S. Cuney was a prominent black Washington, D.C., lawyer (Simms Blue Book and National Negro Business and Professional Directory [1923; reprint, Cleveland, Ohio: Gordon Publishing Co., 1977], p. 211).
    
[3] The elided text discusses the successful adaptation of African Americans, compared to white Americans, to conditions in Liberia.
    
[4] The remainder of the letter discusses one of Cuney's clients and the schooling of Young's children.