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Tuskegee Airman shares role in black history

By Staff Sgt. Amber Russell 11th Wing Public Affairs

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Some moments in life can change the course of history for the betterment of mankind. Living in an era when segregation and racism openly plagued our nation, Dr. Roscoe Brown Jr., former commander of the 332nd Fighter Group's 100th Fighter Squadron, persevered in the face of adversity.

Col. Scott A. Russell, 459th Mission Support Group commander, invited the World War II Tuskegee Airman to share his experiences at a Black History Month Opening Breakfast and ceremony here Feb. 1, 2013.

"Everything we went through proves African Americans can do anything anybody else on the planet can do," said Brown. "Black history month is about the excellence of African Americans. As we know, African Americans have contributed mightily to the history of this country."

During his speech, Brown cited significant accomplishments African Americans have made.

"Washington D.C., our nation's capital, was designed by Benjamin Banneker. Garret Morgan invented the first traffic light. Dr. Charles Drew developed the blood bank used in World War II which saved thousands of lives on the battlefield," he said. "This tells us excellence resides in the hearts, minds and souls of every Black American. We must keep telling our story so people throughout society, unaware of our achievements understand why we celebrate Black History Month."

These achievements happened during times of racial tension and societal resistance to desegregation. Bringing Tuskegee Airmen into the fold of military aviation was a great challenge as well.

"The story of the creation of the Tuskegee Airmen is about protest, protest, protest," Brown said.

During this time of exclusion, Fred Patterson, president of the Tuskegee Institute, rejected forced segregation of military bases. After significant efforts and political unrest, the Civil Pilot Training Act, passed in 1939, allowing African Americans to train at Moton Field, in Tuskegee, Alabama.

This accomplishment created opportunity for Brown and many others who made significant contributions to the military.

Brown received the Distinguished Flying Cross during World War II. He was instrumental in shooting down a Nazi ME-262 on March 24, 1945, which contributed to the 332nd Fighter Group earning the Distinguished Unit Citation.

The well-educated leader became director of the Institute for African-American Affairs and a professor of education at New York University. He served the community in that capacity for twenty years.

Brown professed to his students and Team Andrews how important is to get past "stereotype theory," referencing studies where people of different races believed their talents were determined by their race.

"There is no such thing as a white position or a black position," Brown said. "However, there is a position where excellence occurs, and that is where hard work, having positive role models and following your aspirations meet."

For more information on the achievements of Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, Jr., "like" his Facebook page.