Press Release: Roscoe Brown to Receive Congressional Gold Medal as Tuskegee Airman

Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, director of the Center for Urban Education Policy at the CUNY Graduate Center, will receive the Congressional Gold Medal for his role as a Tuskegee Airman in WWII.  Dr. Brown was a decorated member of the group of African American fighter pilots, famous for their prowess, heroism, and accomplishments during World War II, fighting Nazis in the skies of Europe while overcoming racial prejudice in the American military.  The medal will be awarded at a White House ceremony later this year.  

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest and most distinguished civilian award conferred by the United States Congress, and is presented by the President on behalf of the Congress.  The first person to receive the medal was George Washington in 1776.  Among its recent recipients have been Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela.

The bill to award the medal to the Tuskegee Airmen passed unanimously in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and was signed into law by President George W. Bush on April 11, 2006.  The legislation was sponsored in the House by Congressman Charles Rangel, and in the Senate, by Senator Carl Levin.        

“The Award of the Congressional Gold Medal symbolizes the nation's recognition of the Tuskegee Airmen’s accomplishments,” said Brown.  “I am personally thrilled that Congressman Rangel and Senator Levin campaigned for this great honor.”

The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of 994 African-American pilots comprising the segregated 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group of the Army Air Corps during World War II.  Renowned for their heroics in protecting American bombers from enemy fighter planes in raids over Europe and North Africa, the Tuskegee Airmen collected nearly 1,000 military awards.  Their accomplishments are credited with contributing to President Harry Truman’s decision to desegregate the U.S. military in 1948.

Dr. Brown was one of the Tuskegee Airmen’s top guns, being the first member of the 15th Air Force to shoot down a German jet fighter.  He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.  He received a Ph.D. from New York University, where he was a professor for 25 years, and for 16 years he was president of CUNY’s Bronx Community College.  A specialist in educational measurement, he founded the Center for Urban Education Policy in 1993.  Among his many honors are the NAACP Freedom Award and the Congressional Award for Service to the African-American Community, and he has been inducted into the National Association for Sports and Physical Fitness Hall of Fame.  He will receive an honorary doctorate from The Graduate Center at its 2006 commencement on May 25.

The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of The City University of New York.  The only consortium of its kind in the nation, the school draws its faculty of more than 1,700 members mainly from the CUNY senior colleges.

Established in 1961, The Graduate Center has grown to an enrollment of about 4,000 students in more than 30 doctoral programs and six master's degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.  The Graduate Center also houses 28 research centers and institutes, administers the CUNY Baccalaureate Program as well as a number of other university-wide academic programs, and offers a wide range of intellectual and cultural programs of interest to the general public.

Submitted on: APR 1, 2006

Category: Press Room