AUSTIN, Texas -- The appointment of the first black Texas Ranger in the 165-year history of the elite law enforcement group will not deter discrimination complaints against the state, a civil rights group said.
Lee Roy Young, a 15-year state police veteran, was appointed Thursday as the first black on the 94-man force that assists local authorities in the investigation of major crime cases. Of the Rangers currently serving, four are Hispanic, but there are no blacks or women.
The NAACP has threatened to sue the Texas Department of Public Safety, whose director appoints Rangers, on the grounds black officers have been unfairly passed over for promotions and have been discriminated against in other ways.
'It's too late,' said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP. 'If a fellow is a wife beater and he gives his wife roses before he comes to court, you don't drop the charges. It's just a very small gesture.'
Col. Leo Gossett, who is two days away from retiring as director of the DPS, appointed Young and three other officers to the Rangers effective Sept. 1.
Young, 41, an investigator with the DPS Criminal Intelligence Service in San Antonio, will be stationed initially in the Dallas suburb of Garland.
'I don't think that (discrimination) had anything to do with it. I've tried for the past three years, and this time I made it,' Young said. 'I don't think what the NAACP did was instrumental in getting me here. I feel I got here on my own merits.'
Stephen F. Austin founded the Texas Rangers in 1823 to help protect settlers moving into Texas. The organization was officially organized in 1835.
Bledsoe said the NAACP expects to file an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against DPS in September.
Richard Dockery of Dallas, Southwest regional director of the NAACP, said the organization welcomed Young's appointment as the first black Ranger, but would not accept tokenism.
Young was among four new Rangers chosen from 80 applicants who took written and oral examinations, said DPS spokesman David Wells. The four are replacing Rangers who have retired.
DPS was criticized a year ago by black state troopers and lawmakers for its failure to appoint a black Ranger during its colorful history.
The issue of no blacks on the Ranger force first surfaced in July 1987 when a black state trooper, Michael Scott, said his race may have blocked him from becoming a member of the Rangers.
But Young said the discrimination complaints had nothing to do with his promotion.
'I started striving, working toward this before they (NAACP) even came on the scene. I don't think I was passed over before. I just didn't have a high enough score,' Young said.
Meanwhile, the NAACP urged the DPS Wednesday to rescind the promotion of James Wilson as deputy DPS director because of racist remarks he allegedly made two years ago.
Bledsoe said Wilson, who is white, once referred to the state's first black trooper as 'our token nigger.'
Wilson, 46, denied the allegation, and said the NAACP's information came from a disgruntled former DPS employee.