WW II air force vet, educator honored at street co-naming

City officials and community members honored the life of a late Bronx World War II air force veteran and prominent educator with a street and park co-naming ceremony on Thursday, November 21, nearby Bronx Community College.

The late Dr. Roscoe C. Brown Jr., Ph.D, passed away in July 2016 at the age of 94. He was a former member of the legendary famed Tuskegee Airmen, who received a Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 for his service, and the first African-American president of Bronx Community College for 16 years.

A section of the Aqueduct Walk, formerly known as MLK Plaza, was renamed ‘Captain Roscoe Brown, PH.D, Plaza,’ located between 181st St. and West Burnside Ave.

Those in attendance for the celebration included NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, FAICP, former NYC Mayor David Dinkins, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Councilman Fernando Cabrera, president of Bronx Community College Dr. Thomas Isekenegbe and family members of Brown.

“Dr. Roscoe Brown was a remarkable person, and it gives me great pleasure to not only unveil this beautifully renovated plaza, but to name it in his honor as well,” Silver said.

The project reconfigured the original plaza with new paths and seating to better utilize the space for community gatherings and to maximize pedestrian circulation throughout the site. New fencing, lighting, and landscape improvements have also been incorporated for both beautification and safety.

The $2.9 million project was jointly funded by a $2 million allocation from Mayor de Blasio, $600,000 from Cabrera, and $333,000 from Diaz.

“Roscoe Brown was an internationally recognized trailblazer in the fields of military service, community service and education,” Diaz said. “This new plaza will help us remember his impact on our borough, our city and our nation.”

Following his military service in World War II, Brown completed his master’s degree in 1949 and a Ph.D. in 1951, both from New York University.

He continued his life of service and civil rights advocacy with organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of America, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, Libraries for the Future, and the National Park Service.

When Brown became president of BCC in 1977, he led outreach to the city’s economic and educational institutions and developed new programs in health, technology and human services.

During his tenure at BCC, more than 10,000 students graduated, continuing their education and careers.

“He came back and didn’t forget the Bronx,” Cabrera said.

Following the ceremony, across the street, “Dr. Roscoe C. Brown Jr. Way” was unveiled at University Ave. and W. 181st St.

Brown’s son, Dennis, said his father’s legacy will continue to inspire and encourage the next generation of academic scholars and community members who visit the park.

“Roscoe lived the last 30 years of his life here in the Bronx. He took his last breath in the Bronx; he was the Bronx, and today, everyone here is Roscoe Brown’s Bronx family,” Dennis said.

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