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Fri, 06.03.1949

First Black graduates from Annapolis

Wesley Brown (1949)

On this date in 1949, the first Black man graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.

Wesley Anthony Brown was born and raised in Washington, D.C. His high school was one of several that required boys to be in the Cadet Corps.  He applied to the U.S. Naval Academy-- only the sixth Black person to ever enroll at the military academy, the first one to make it past the first year. That graduation day, Brown was prominent in the sea of crisp white uniforms at Dahlgren Hall. The ensign got his diploma and joyfully tossed his cap in the air with those of his 789 classmates. Brown’s mother, Rosetta, who had pressed pants to help him through high school, watched proudly from the galleries.

Brown served 20 years in the Navy's Civil Engineer Corps and during that time he rose to the rank of lieutenant commander. He built houses in Hawaii, roads in Liberia, wharves in the Philippines, a nuclear power plant in Antarctica, and a desalination plant in Cuba.

Lt. Cmdr. Wesley A. Brown retired from the school in 1988 to spend more time with his wife, Crystal Brown and his family. On May 22, 2012 He died from metastatic cancer at the Springhouse assisted living center in Silver Spring. He was 85.

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