Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. made history as he was sworn in as the first Black Chief of Staff of the Air Force in a ceremony in the Oval Office on Aug. 4, making him the first African American to lead a U.S. military service.

In June, the Senate unanimously confirmed the four-star general as the U.S. Air Force's chief of staff in a 98-0 vote, as the United States grappled with its history of racial injustice and systemic mistreatment of Black communities by law enforcement.

Brown's confirmation happened on the same day the family of George Floyd held his funeral in Houston.

Brown, who is nicknamed "CQ," spoke out about the protests and reflected on his own experiences with racism, both growing up and in the military.

"As the commander of the Pacific Air Forces, a senior leader in our Air Force, and an African American, many of you may be wondering what I'm thinking about the current events surrounding the tragic death of George Floyd," he said in a video posted on Twitter June 5.

"I'm thinking about wearing the same flight suit with the same wings on my chest as my peers and then being questioned by another military member, 'Are you a pilot?' “ Brown said.

The general spoke of navigating "two worlds" as well as how his nomination "provides some hope but also comes with a heavy burden" given the nation's current focus on matters of race.

"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," Brown said.

Brown also discussed experiences from throughout his career, such as overhearing insensitive comments made by others who seemed unaware. He said that on occasion, his comments have been perceived to represent the perspective of all Black people, when in reality it was "just my perspective informed by being African American."

He also said he's been told he "wasn't Black enough" by other African Americans because he was spending more time with his squadron than with them.

President Trump celebrated the confirmation in a tweet, saying he was "excited to work even more closely" with Brown. "A historic day for America!" Trump said. "Excited to work even more closely with Gen. Brown, who is a patriot and Great Leader!"

Brown will be the first Black member to sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff since Colin Powell, a former secretary of state and retired four-star general, served as chairman from 1989 to 1993.

Brown is a decorated general who is currently the commander of the Pacific Air Forces and oversees more than 46,000 airmen serving mainly in Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, Japan and Korea, according to his Air Force biography.

He was first commissioned in 1984 as a distinguished graduate of the ROTC program at Texas Tech University. Brown later went on to become a command pilot with more than 2,900 flying hours, including 130 combat hours. He and wife Sharene Guilford Brown have been married since 1989 and have two sons.

- Contributing: Associated Press and NPR.org

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.