The Ally: Feb 2021 – Member Spotlight: Charles L. Young Sr. Foundation

Sandy Young
Charles L. Young Sr. Foundation

The Charles L. Young Sr. Foundation was started by the late State Representative Charles L. Young, Sr. in 2001 in his hometown, Meridian, MS.  He was the eldest son and second of three children of E. F. Young Jr. (July 1898-May 1950) and Velma Beal (November 1902–February 1987), both of whom were African American entrepreneurs who exposed Charles to the family business at an early age. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Tennessee State University in 1951, Charles was drafted and served in the U.S. Army, where he obtained the rank of Sargent (E6).  He served in the Korean War and earned other medals but was most proud of the Bronze Star he was awarded for heroic service and meritorious service in a combat zone.

He made one of the best decisions of his life in 1960 when he married his future campaign manager Doretha Connor of Port Arthur, Texas. Doretha, an army lieutenant who later became a mathematics instructor at Meridian Jr. College, was often recognized as the brains of the two. To this union were born four children: Representative Charles L. Young, Jr., Deidre Milton, Arthur S. Young, and Judge Veldore Young Graham.

In 1969, Charles Young Sr. assumed the position of president of E.F. Young, Jr. Manufacturing Company.  Under his leadership, the company prospered and became the oldest family-owned manufacturer of ethnic hair care products in the United States.  After being denied a $50,000 loan in the 1970s, the company would expand its markets across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and South Africa, selling millions of dollars’ worth of product.  Young continued branching out into other entrepreneurial areas. He was founder and president of Young’s Construction Company, a major stockholder in WLBT-TV Jackson, MS, WLBM-TV Meridian, MS, WTNK radio Meridian, MS, and was the first black licensed real estate broker in Meridian, MS.  He served his hometown business community as the first African American member of the board of directors of the Greater Meridian Chamber of Commerce, a member of the National Business League, and a member of the Mississippi Independent Beauticians Association. The Charles L. Young, Sr. Foundation is a private (family) foundation created to award just a few scholarships to youth in the Meridian area. After the founder’s death in 2009, the current trustees expanded the Foundation’s mission while doubling its assets.  Meridian is still the focus of the Foundation’s giving, with over 90% of its grants and scholarships awarded to groups or persons in the Meridian area.  The level of giving has increased to over a dozen scholarships a year and various grants that have contributed over a million dollars to the area. 

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