On October 26, 1858, James H. Young was born into slavery near Henderson. Thanks in large measure to his father’s emphasis on education, Young was hired to work in the office of Colonel J. J. Young, an internal revenue collector. While working in the office, he became involved with the Republican Party.
An industrious worker, Young was selected for multiple government patronage positions. As owner and editor of the Raleigh Gazette, the principal voice of black politics in North Carolina in the 1890s, Young became involved in the movement to merge the Republicans and Populists and became a central figure in the resulting Fusion movement. He was elected to the state legislature from Wake County in 1894 and 1896.
A lifelong advocate for equality and reform, Young succeeded in getting the Raleigh city charter amended to better represent the African American community and played a pivotal role in the election of Governor Daniel L. Russell. The Republican governor appointed Young colonel of a black regiment during the Spanish American War.
After the white supremacy campaign of 1898, Young and other prominent black politicians were prevented from participating in state politics. He spent the remaining years of his life working as a federal revenue collector and running private businesses, and he died in 1921.
A historical marker about Young stands in downtown Raleigh.
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