Author Brian Shellum will speak as a panel member at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) during its very first military history symposium titled: “Double Victory: The African American Military Experience.” The panel is called “Remembering World War I” and will take place tomorrow from 2:00-5:00 p.m. in the Oprah Winfrey Theater. Shellum will talk about the legacy of Colonel Charles Young and his impact on a generation of African American officers. You can find more information about the symposium here.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in Washington D.C. on September 24 as “the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture.” You can read more about the museum at the NMAAHC website and on our blog.
Shellum is a retired senior intelligence analyst with the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization with the U.S. Department of Defense. He is the author of Black Cadet in a White Bastion: Charles Young at West Point (Bison Books, 2006) and Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment: The Military Career of Charles Young (Bison Books, 2010). More information about each book is below.
Black Cadet in a White Bastion: Charles Young at West Point
This biography of Young’s years at West Point chronicles the enormous challenges that Young faced and provides a valuable window into life at West Point in the 1880s. Academic difficulties, hazing, and social ostracism dogged him throughout his academy years. He succeeded through a combination of focused intellect, hard work, and a sense of humor. By graduation, he had made white friends, and his motivation and determination had won him the grudging respect of many of his classmates and professors.
Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment: The Military Career of Charles Young
This book tells the story of the man who—willingly or not—served as a standard-bearer for his race in the officer corps for nearly thirty years, and who, if not for racial prejudice, would have become the first African American general. Young was a colonel on the eve of the United States’ entry into World War I, when serious medical problems and racial intolerance denied him command and ended his career. Shellum’s book seeks to restore a hero to the ranks of military history; at the same time, it informs our understanding of the role of race in the history of the American military.