1st African-American graduate of Naval Academy dies at 85
Retired Lieutenant Commander Wesley Brown, the first African-American graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, dies at 85, according to the Academy. Brown’s death reportedly occurred on Tuesday, but the cause of death is unknown. He had a 20-year career in the Navy and is a veteran of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Brown did his due diligence to society by building homes in Hawaii, roads in Liberia, waterfront facilities in the Philippines, and a seawater conversion plant in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Brown was the sixth black appointed to the Naval Academy in 1945, but the first to earn a degree in 1949. In a statement, Vice Admiral Michael H. Millers, the Naval Academy’s superintendent, said Brown “embodied the highest ideals of the Academy’s mission and dedicated himself to decades of selfless and distinguished service to our nation.” While attending the Academy, Brown ran varsity track and cross country alongside former President Jimmy Carter and also chose not to room with his white fellows. In a 2005 interview with the Baltimore Sun, he said he learned to avoid frustration when faced with an unchanging situation. Brown said, “When I came to the academy, I learned that there were all kinds of prejudices _ against Jews, Catholics, even the Irish _ and I looked around and thought that these prejudices were instilled in them by their families and they could not be blamed for feeling the way they did.” To promote diversity, in 2008, the Naval Academy constructed the Wesley Brown Field House to accommodate physical education classes, as well as the academy’s athletic program.