Lt. Commander Wesley Brown, April 3, 1927 -- May 22, 2012
May 25, 2012 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Wesley Brown, the first black man to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy, has died. He was 85 years old.

Born in Baltimore, Brown was appointed to the academy in 1945, and graduated in 1949. He was the sixth black student to attend the school, but the first to graduate. During his time there, he was harassed by white students and given excessive demerits. One of the few classmates who encouraged him to stay the course was his fellow track team member Jimmy Carter.

After graduation, Brown entered the Navy's Civil Engineer Corps and served in the Korean and Vietnam wars. He retired from the Navy in 1969. In 2008, the Naval Academy dedicated the Wesley Brown Field House, a $50 million, 140,000-square foot recreational facility.

In 2005, Brown was honored by the Veterans' History Project of the Library of Congress. Brown also discussed his experiences at the Navy academy with author Robert J. Schneller Jr., for his book Breaking the Color Barrier: The U.S. Naval Academy's First Black Midshipmen and the Struggle for Racial Equality. While acknowledging the prejudice he experienced, Brown said he chose not to focus on it.

"The more years that go by I remember the good stuff and not any bad stuff at all."
posted by Rangeboy (15 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
. and BZ
posted by jquinby at 8:03 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by batmonkey at 8:07 AM on May 25, 2012


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posted by cashman at 8:12 AM on May 25, 2012


Too young. And when I say "too young," I mean that black people have been fighting and dying for our country for hundreds of years, and it's a crime that the first black man to graduate from the Naval Academy is only 85 years old.
posted by escabeche at 8:21 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Last fall, Mr. Brown joined classmates for their 45th reunion. The gray veterans all watched Brigade Cmdr. Reuben Brigety, 21, of Jacksonville, Fla., a black midshipman with sword in hand, lead the brigade.

Afterward, Mr. Brown approached Midshipman Brigety, who saw there were tears streaming down Mr. Brown's face. "He said, 'You know, Reuben, just watching you coming across the field just let me know how far we've come.' "
From the 1995 Baltimore Sun article.

There's something in my eye.

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posted by sciencegeek at 8:25 AM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:30 AM on May 25, 2012


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posted by KillaSeal at 10:00 AM on May 25, 2012


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posted by Smart Dalek at 10:11 AM on May 25, 2012


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posted by Renoroc at 10:14 AM on May 25, 2012


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posted by 4ster at 12:19 PM on May 25, 2012


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posted by The Michael The at 12:23 PM on May 25, 2012


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:26 PM on May 25, 2012


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posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:19 PM on May 25, 2012


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posted by radwolf76 at 12:43 AM on May 27, 2012


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posted by bluefly at 1:57 AM on May 27, 2012


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