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Naval Academy alumni reflect on 1st black graduate

ANNAPOLIS — Black alumni of the U.S. Naval Academy are celebrating the life of its first black graduate, who opened doors to them.

Wesley Brown, Jr., performs "Amazing Grace" during a memorial service for his father, Lt. Cmdr. Wesley Brown, pictured at left, the first African-American to graduate from the United States Naval Academy.

A memorial service was held Wednesday to put the ashes of Wesley Brown in a columbarium on the school’s grounds. Brown was remembered as a persistent, courageous and friendly trailblazer who endured poor treatment by classmates with grace.

After Brown entered the academy in 1945, he lived alone all four years so that he wouldn’t have to burden roommates with living with the school’s only black student. He attended at the same time as former President Jimmy Carter.

Janie Mines, a 1980 graduate of the academy, says Brown did so much for people by being a pioneer under difficult circumstances.

Brown died last month of cancer. He was 85.