Dr. Roscoe Brown - Honorees - The Gordon Parks Foundation

Captain and Commander of the Tuskegee Airmen of the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group

Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, Jr., Director of the Center for Urban Education Policy and University Professor at the Graduate School and University Center of The City University of New York (CUNY), is President Emeritus of Bronx Community College of CUNY, and was founding Director of the Institute of Afro-American Affairs at New York University. He holds a doctorate from New York University, and served on faculty at West Virginia State College and as a full professor at New York University’s School of Education. A native of Washington, D.C., Dr. Brown is a graduate of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, and received his Bachelor’s degree from Springfield College in Massachusetts.

Dr. Brown is Past President of One Hundred Black Men, and has served on the boards of many regional and City educational, arts and cultural and civic organizations -- including the YMCA of Greater New York, Fund for the City of New York, New York City Partnership, Association to Benefit New York, Museum of the City of New York, City Parks Foundation and Libraries for the Future. 

Dr. Brown has received numerous awards and honors for scholarly and community activities, among them the NAACP Freedom Award, the Congressional Award for Service to the African-American Community, the New York Urban League’s Distinguished Citizen Award and Distinguished Alumnus awards from his alma maters – New York University and Springfield College.  He was honored as a “New York City Treasure” during the City’s Centennial celebration, received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the New York Post’s Liberty Medal.

An Army Air Force Captain in World War II, Dr. Brown commanded the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group (the famed “Tuskegee Airmen”) and is credited with being the first 15th Air Force fighter pilot to shoot down a German jet fighter. In March 2007, Dr. Brown and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their service. 

"America was in the second year of World War II. Unrest was building in the black military quarters because of discriminatory practices against Negroes in the Air Force. The 332nd Fighter Group was the first Negro fighter group. I was assigned to cover them training in Michigan, then travel with them to record them in combat overseas. During my weeks with these brave men, we lost a pilot in bad weather. His body had to be taken 300 miles to be embalmed because there were no facilities for handling the Negro dead. In December, training was finished; we were going overseas. As the traveling orders came in I learned my clearance had been canceled. I was taken aside and told that there were some politicians who realized that my pictures would appear in the white media. They did not want this small group of Negro pilots to get any publicity. The mood was bad when I was ordered to leave the base. A black crewman had been beaten up by white para-troopers. Those brave fighter pilots sailed toward war and death as they fought  Hitler’s Luftwaffe. But racism towards me and them meant that I would not record these brave Negro heroes in action.” 
 Gordon Parks, 1997