Dear Commons Community,
Dr. Roscoe C. Brown Jr., best known as a member of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, has died at the age of 94. Brown flew 68 combat missions for the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American pilots in U.S. history. Dr. Brown earned the Distinguished Flying Cross during World War II. He was also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.
Brown fell critically ill over the winter and had a pacemaker installed at Montefiore Medical Center. His physician, Dr. Daniel Sims, told NBC 4 New York in May, “If he wasn’t as healthy and in such great shape, he probably wouldn’t have made it through this…Most 94-year-olds are not this active, but Dr. Brown is just remarkable,” he said.
Here at CUNY, we knew Roscoe as a colleague. He served as president of Bronx Community College for seventeen years during difficult times from 1977 to 1994. After retiring from Bronx Community College, he helped establish the PhD Program in Urban Education at the Graduate Center and was a member of its faculty. He also was the director of the Center for Urban Education Policy.
I personally came to know Roscoe when we were developing the PhD Program in Urban Education in the 1990s. He made significant contributions to its focus, especially the need for education policy and for a commitment to diversity. When I became Executive Officer of the program in 2007, I had lunch with Roscoe. I will never forget him saying that as the program moved forward, he hoped that we would continue a commitment to diversity among our students and faculty. I think as a program, we have moved on his wish.
We will miss Roscoe especially his glowing smile and the twinkle in his eyes.