A civil rights lawyer and a former National Parks Service superintendent were the first to receive the Trailblazer Awards from the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers Monument, officials said.
Benjamin L. Crump, a civil rights lawyer, and Robert G. Stanton, former NPS leader, were presented the awards Thursday on the 154th birthday of Young.
Crump has been an advocate for the “marginalized in our country” and represented the families of shooting victims Trayvon Martin and Robbie Tolan, among others, his website says.
Crump, a Time magazine contributor, was the first African-American president of the Federal Bar Association for the Northern District of Florida and first African-American chairman of the Florida State University College of Law Board of Directors.
“‘As we all know, trailblazers are people who create a road or a trail where there isn’t one so he has been instrumental supporting people who’s civil rights have been violated,” said Joy Kinard, superintendent of the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument. “He has been able to raise an awareness in the millennial community this next generation, to have an interest in knowing how important civil rights are.”
Stanton was the first African-American leader of the National Park Service, and served during the Clinton administration. He was also a senior adviser on historic preservation to the Department of the Interior.
He was selected because of his work in historic preservation and expanding the national parks narrative to include diverse people, Kinard said.
“He was the first African-American to be a superintendent of a national park after Col. Charles Young was,” she said.
Col. Young was the first African-American to reach the rank of colonel in the Army and was a pioneer for equality for African American soldiers. The West Point graduate fought in the Philippine-American war and was the first African-American superintendent of a national park – Sequoia in northern California, among other career milestones.
HISTORY EXTRA: Charles Young, military luminary