|Alumni Hall of Fame
Wesley A. Brown
Class of 1951
Civil Rights Trailblazer
Wesley Brown broke the color barrier at the U.S. Naval Academy, becoming its first African-American graduate in 1949. He was the sixth African-American to attend the Naval Academy, but the first to graduate. While the others left the school because they were ostracized and subjected to repeated acts of hazing and racism, Brown endured the harsh treatment with resilience and grace, well before the dawning of the civil rights struggle against racial discrimination.
Brown continued his education at Rensselaer, earning a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. He served 20 years in the Navy Civil Engineer Corps overseeing the construction of military homes, roads, and power plants, followed by construction management positions with the state of New York and Howard University. In 2008, the Naval Academy named its new field house in his honor, the first facility at any U.S. service academy named for an African-American, celebrating Brown as a pioneer of racial justice. Throughout his life, Brown was a role model and mentor to minorities who followed in his footsteps.