Wesley A. Brown
April 3, 1927|
|Died||May 22, 2012
Silver Spring, Maryland
|Occupation||U.S. Navy Officer, civil engineer|
|Known for||First African-American to graduate from the United States Naval Academy|
Wesley Anthony Brown (April 3, 1927 – May 22, 2012) was the first African American graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), in Annapolis, Maryland. He served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War and served in the U.S. Navy from May 2, 1944, until June 30, 1969.
Wesley Brown was born April 3, 1927, in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated from Dunbar High School in Baltimore, MD, where he was Cadet Corps Battalion Commander during his senior year. He became the first in his family to attend college, at Howard University.
A retired naval officer, Lt. Cmdr. Brown was the sixth African American to attend, and the first to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy. He was nominated for admission and later appointed to USNA, by New York Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Brown entered the academy on June 30, 1945 and graduated on June 3, 1949. He was an accomplished athlete, running cross-country with Jimmy Carter, the 39th president, who was also a Naval Academy graduate. The experiences of the first five African Americans admitted to the academy and the challenges Brown and the others faced are documented in the book Breaking the Color Barrier: The US Naval Academy’s First Black Midshipmen and the Struggle for Racial Equality, written by Navy historian Robert J. Schneller Jr.
Brown retired at the rank of Lieutenant Commander in June 1969 after serving 20 years in the Navy's Civil Engineer Corps. There Brown was responsible for building military service member homes in Hawaii, roads in Liberia, wharves in the Philippines, a nuclear power plant in Antarctica, and a desalination plant in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. When he retired, Brown consulted on construction projects and joined the faculty at Howard University as a physical facilities analyst. He served as chairman of DC's Congressional Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton’s Service Academy Selection Board. He retired from the University .
Brown and his wife Crystal had four children and seven grandchildren. Their daughter Carol Jackson chairs the California Division of the American Cancer Society and heads the External Affairs and Diversity Management departments at Macy's West. Brown was a volunteer motivational speaker and spoke with Washington, DC high school students and midshipmen of the USNA Black Studies Club during Black History Month.
Brown died aged 85 on May 22, 2012 in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Awards and honors
Brown received the American Theater Ribbon and World War II Victory Medal. he was recognized with the 2009 National Society of Black Engineers Golden Torch Legacy Award-First Honoree.
The Wesley Brown Field House at the U.S. Naval Academy is named in his honor. Brown wielded a shovel in the groundbreaking on March 25, 2006. The building was completed in March 2008 and dedicated on May 10, 2008. Brown also participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Jeffrey L. Fowler, and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.
- 1941 Harvard–Navy lacrosse game
- Lawrence Chambers, the second African American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy
- "First African-American Graduate From Naval Academy Dies « CBS Baltimore". Baltimore.cbslocal.com. 24 May 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
- Rucker, Philip (11 May 2008). "Facility Dedicated to Black Pioneer: D.C. Resident Broke Institute's Color Barrier When He Graduated in 1949". The Washington Post Company. Retrieved 9 February 2010.
- Journalist 2nd Class Matt Jarvis, U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs (28 March 2006). "Naval Academy Breaks Ground on Wesley Brown Field House". http://www.navy.mil. Retrieved 24 May 2012. "Lt. Cmdr. Wesley A. Brown was the sixth African American to enter the Naval Academy, and in 1949, he became the Academy’s first African American graduate."
- American Cancer Society, California Division. 2008 Report
- Advertising Age, February 21, 2008. Bill Imada. Have Asian Americans Done Enough for the Black Community?
- Huff Post: Black Voices obituary, 24 May 2012
- Journalist 2nd Class Matt Jarvis, U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs (March 26, 2006). "Naval Academy Breaks Ground on Wesley Brown Field House". United States Navy. Retrieved 24 February 2008.
- Kelly, Earl (8 May 2008). "Naval Academy unveils $52 million field house: Facility named after first African-American graduate". Capital Gazette Communications, Inc. Retrieved 9 February 2010.
- Green, Patrick (Trident staff) (15 May 2008). "Wesley Brown Field House Dedicated". Comprint Military Publications ("Naval Academy on dcmilitary.com"). Retrieved 9 February 2010.