The NFF Gold Medal 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. Brown becomes the 58th recipient of the NFF Gold Medal, including the third African-American to win this prestigious award joining comedian Bill Cosby and baseball legend Jackie Robinson.
Brown served as the valedictorian and treasurer of his graduating class at Springfield College in 1943. 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.
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 still serves as the current director.
In recognition of his strong character and accomplishments, Brown received an honorary doctor of humanics degree from Springfield College in 1992. Springfield College awards honorary degrees to individuals who personify the humanics philosophy of the College. The philosophy emphasizes the dedication of spirit, mind and body for leadership in service to others.
Brown has served as a volunteer director or chair of more than 25 organizations throughout his life. He has been involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America; the Arthur Ashe Athletic Association; Metropolitan YMCA; Libraries for the Future; and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Brown has also served on New York State’s Governor’s Advisory Committee for Black Affairs; the Human Rights Advisory Council; and the United States Attorney General’s Ethical Standards Committee.