Each February, we come together to celebrate Black History Month by honoring the many achievements by African-Americans and recognizing the central role of blacks in U.S. history.
This year, one special man comes to mind - Leon Young.
Young was not only a war veteran, a successful small business owner, a husband and a father, but the first and only African-American mayor of Colorado Springs. His tenure as mayor was short, but his impact as a public servant was great; he served as vice mayor and as a city council member for decades prior.
A quiet, hard-working man dedicated to public service, local newspaper headlines from the 1990s paint a vivid picture of his character:
- "The quiet man proves to be a voice for the voiceless"
- "A quarter century of public service / Working behind the scenes, vice mayor quietly builds consensus"
- "Young's years of service nurture Colorado Springs"
- "Vice Mayor Young a fierce fighter for racial equality"
On May 19, 1999, the Colorado Springs Utilities Board renamed the Colorado Springs Utilities Service Center the Leon Young Service Center "in appreciation for the exemplary and dedicated leadership of Mr. Young during his tenure as City Council Member, Vice Mayor and Mayor of Colorado Springs."
Young passed away in 2004 at age 80. He left a legacy and we are honored to have his name on our building. If you visit the Leon Young Service Center, check out the display cases in the lobby with his numerous awards, pictures and treasures.
If you want to learn more about Leon Young and other contributions African-Americans have made to our Colorado Springs community, visit the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum exhibit called Any Place That Is North and West. This exhibit explores what African-Americans found when they arrived in Colorado Springs, the supportive community they created for themselves, and the role they played in shaping the city we live in today.