The Senate on Tuesday voted to confirm the first African-American Head of a major U.S. military service, Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr. taking that step in the midst of national protests over police violence against black citizens.
Brown, the commander of Pacific Air Forces for the last two years, will replace Gen. David L. Goldfein, who has led the service since July 2016. Brown is expected to lead the service as it prepares for the rise of China as an adversary, incorporates artificial technology into operations and sheds a portion of its mission as the Pentagon’s new Space Force is established as its own service branch.
Brown’s confirmation comes as the nation has faced two weeks of civil unrest following the death of George Floyd, 46, in Minneapolis in late May. He addressed Floyd’s death in a nearly five-minute-long video shared online, during which he said he was “thinking about how full I am with emotion — not just for George Floyd, but the many African Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd.”
“I’m thinking about a history of racial issues, and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty and equality,” Brown said. “I’m thinking about living in two worlds, each with their own perspectives and views.”
Reflecting on his career in the Air Force, Brown said he was often the only African American in his squadron and only African American senior officer.
“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 in the video, which has amassed 2.9 million views.
The Texas native said he thought his nomination might bring others hope.
However, he added, “I can’t fix centuries of racism in our country.”
President Donald Trump cheered the confirmation in a tweet.
“A historic day for America! Excited to work even more closely with Gen. Brown, who is a Patriot and Great Leader!” he wrote.