Roscoe Brown Defied Gravity

Roscoe Brown Defied Gravity

Iconic Alumni

As we celebrate Black History Month as a community, Springfield College honors and recognizes the contributions of its notable alumni.

Roscoe C. Brown Jr. ’43  PhD, was born in Washington, D.C., on March 9, 1922. The younger of two children, Brown’s father worked as a public health specialist and his mother as a teacher.

Roscoe Brown with the 1941-1942 Junior Varsity Basketball Team.
Roscoe Brown, top right, served as the manager of the Springfield College men’s basketball team, and is pictured here with the 1941-1942 Junior Varsity Basketball Team.

Brown served as the valedictorian and treasurer of his 1943 graduating class at Springfield College. Brown lettered in football all four of his years at Springfield College where he played both offensive and defensive end. Brown also played three years of lacrosse at the College and served as the manager of the Springfield College men’s basketball team.

Following graduation from Springfield College, Brown responded to the call of military service and was trained to fly World War II combat missions starting in 1944 as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen. Brown led more than 68 missions as a member of the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332 Fighter Group, which consisted of African-American pilots flying P-51 Mustangs. The accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen played a major role in defeating racial stereotypes and integrating the U.S. military in 1948.

Roscoe Brown played three years of lacrosse at the College.
Roscoe Brown, at left, played three years of lacrosse at the College.

At the conclusion of World War II, Brown taught physical education at West Virginia State College. Brown next headed to New York City to earn his master’s degree in 1949 and doctorate in 1951, both from New York University (NYU). Following 25 years as a professor at NYU, Brown served as president of Bronx Community College from 1977 through 1993. He also created the Center for Urban Education Policy at the Graduate School and University Center at the City University of New York in 1993, where he served almost until his death.

Brown served Springfield College as a Trustee. In 1973, he was presented the Springfield College Distinguished Alumni Award for professional excellence and service to community, state, and nation. In recognition of his strong character and accomplishments, Brown received an honorary Doctor of Humanics degree from Springfield College in 1992. In 2012, he received the National Football Foundation (NFF) highest award, the Gold Medal, which recognizes an outstanding American who has demonstrated integrity and honesty, achieved significant career success, and has reflected the basic values of those who have excelled in amateur sport, particularly football. That same year, he was featured in Triangle magazine.

Roscoe Brown lettered in football all four of his years at Springfield College
Roscoe Brown lettered in football all four of his years at Springfield College where he played both offensive and defensive end.


Brown served as a volunteer director or chair of more than 25 organizations throughout his life, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Arthur Ashe Athletic Association, Metropolitan YMCA, Libraries for the Future, and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Brown also has served on the New York State Governor’s Advisory Committee for Black Affairs, the Human Rights Advisory Council, and the United States Attorney General Ethical Standards Committee.He was a founding member of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Roscoe Brown's honorary Doctor of Humanics citation
Roscoe Brown’s honorary Doctor of Humanics citation, May 24, 1992

Active in the media as well, Brown hosted the television program, African American Legends, and he won the 1973 Emmy Award for Distinguished Program with his weekly series Black Arts. He published numerous articles and contributed to several books, and was the recipient of numerous awards, including the New York City Treasure Centennial Honor from the Museum of the City of New York and the Humanitarian Award from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Brown also completed nine New York City marathons, his last one at age 80. Brown passed away on July 2, 2016, at age 94.