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A symbol of determination and success

April 09, 2006|By MONICA LOPOSSAY | MONICA LOPOSSAY,SUN REPORTER

The U.S. Naval Academy recently dedicated its new field house to Wesley Brown, the first African-American to graduate from the school.

Brown, who graduated in 1949, attended the event. As he stood observing the dedication, he fiddled gently with a piece of his past, playing with the Naval Academy class ring he had received 57 years earlier.

Brown, 78, entered the academy in 1945 after five other black midshipmen had failed to finish their first year there. Upon arriving, he faced many of the same pressures as his predecessors, particularly a campaign by white midshipmen to "skin him out on demerits," citing him speciously for poor conduct, a messy room or unkempt uniform.

Brown made it through the first year and eventually graduated one year after President Harry S. Truman desegregated the military by executive order.

monica.lopossay@baltsun.com

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