Lee Roy Young Jr. grew up in Texas hoping to join the elite Rangers Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Young’s boyhood dream came true on this day in 1988 when he was sworn in as a Texas Ranger.
Young was born January 8, 1947 in Del Rio, Texas. Raised by his grandparents in nearby Bracketville, he returned to Del Rio and graduated from high school in 1966. Young joined the Navy and served until 1970 while working as an electrician. He then graduated junior college and was attending Sam Houston State University when decided to join the Department of Public Safety. He was hired by the department in 1973.
The young officer took to the job and worked in several capacities including narcotics, kidnapping and forgery. He was also a criminal intelligence investigator in San Antonio and respected by his peers as an avid student of criminal justice. While at DPS, Young earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin.
Young applied for the Rangers job for three years straight before he was finally selected. In a 2008 interview, Young said he adapted to the grueling training and study he underwent for the job fairly easily. Although he was the only Black Ranger for several years, Young says he was never treated any differently.
That distinction of being the first Black Ranger meant very little to Young, as he hoped to inspire people simply by his aptitude for the job. During his appointment, several news outlets reached out to Young but he didn’t want a fuss made over the fact that he was Black. He said he was glad to serve as a role model but didn’t want race to define the conversation.
The Ranger hung up his gun and badge in 2003 and settled in McKinney, Texas with his wife, Mary. The couple raised two grown children together.
PHOTO: Texas Rangers