2016/07/06

Tuskegee Airman and York Friend Dies

The York College community is saddened by the death of Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, a hero pilot with the legendary Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, and a longtime CUNY colleague and friend to York.

During his retirement years, Dr. Brown was one of almost 20 Tuskegee Airmen drawn to York's Aviation Institute and its campus' College Now program for public high school students. The College Now curriculum included optional aviation studies with a one-time flight lesson to interested participants. Almost all the members of that group have now died; but we were truly grateful and honored that they chose us to be a recipient of their goodwill. Not everyone is fortunate enough to know and have a friendship with military legends and history-makers.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the honorees of York's 2009 gala. Dr. Brown, who had been in Prague as a consultant on the George Lucas-produced film, Red Tails, which honors the Airmen's WWII exploits, flew in to attend along with 17 other members of the local chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen. Broadway veteran, Brian Stokes Mitchell, himself the son of a Tuskegee Airman, was the performer for that event and sung the standards from their era - to their sheer delight. There was also a live pre-show interview with CNN anchor, Soledad O'Brien, in which Dr. Brown animatedly shared his story.

This week York's flags fly at half-staff in his memory but there is more. Visitors to our Academic Core Building have all seen the generic Tuskegee Airman statue in the college's atrium. That was part of a temporary exhibit in the Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center for the 2009 gala. It will be part of a planned permanent exhibit in their honor at York. The project is still in the works.

"Our history is the richer for Dr. Brown's life of service," said Dr. Marcia V. Keizs, president of York College. We salute his memory and are thankful for his innumerable acts of service to our nation, our city and our university family."

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