Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. made history this week when he became the nation’s first African-American service chief in the history of the U.S. armed forces. Brown, a 1995 alumnus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, was confirmed by the United States Senate in a 98-0 vote.
A command pilot with more than 2,900 flying hours, including 130 combat hours, Brown formerly served as commander of the Pacific Air Forces, air component commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and executive director of the Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, where he supervised more than 46,000 Airmen.
“Embry-Riddle is very proud to see one of our Eagles ascend to a role of such importance and influence as a U.S. military leader, said Embry-Riddle President P. Barry Butler. “General Brown is an inspiration to all of us in his perseverance, achievements as a pilot and commander, and his continuing dedication to service.”
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, General Brown released a video where he talked about his experience as a Black man in America, his unequal treatment in the armed forces and the protests that have gripped the country over the past few weeks.
“I’m thinking about how full I am with emotion not just for George Floyd, but the many African-Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd,” General Brown said in the video. “I’m thinking about protests in my country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, the equality expressed in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that I have sworn my adult life to support and defend. I’m thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty and equality.”
According to the Pentagon, only 8.8 percent of all military officers are Black.
“I’m thinking about how my nomination provides some hope, but also comes with a heavy burden,” said Brown. “I can’t fix centuries of racism in our country, nor can I fix decades of discrimination that may have impacted members of our Air Force. I’m thinking about how I can make improvements personally, professionally and institutionally, so that all Airmen, both today and tomorrow, appreciate the value of diversity and can serve in an environment where they can reach their full potential.”