The first African-American graduate of the Naval Academy, Lieutenant Commander Wesley Anthony Brown ’49, passed away recently.
Brown served the Academy with great honor and was a teammate of former President Jimmy Carter with the Midshipmen. The Academy’s sensational indoor track & field facility was named in his honor in 2008.
Wrote Academy Superintendent Michael H. Miller:
Brown was commissioned in the Navy Civil Engineer Corps, rising to Lieutenant Commander before retiring from the Navy in July 1969. A veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, he helped build houses in Hawaii, roads in Liberia, waterfront facilities in the Philippines, and a seawater conversion plant in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
After retirement, he worked for the New York State University Construction Fund, the New York State Dormitory Authority and the University Planning Office at Howard University. He retired from civilian employment at Howard University in 1988.
One interesting side note is that while Brown desegregated the Academy in 1945, the U.S. Navy itself was desegregated the following February. The man largely responsible for that was the head of the National Urban League — Lester B. Granger.
Granger himself had been a track athlete in the Ivy League — competing for Dartmouth in the 1910s.