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Black service members are rising up the ranks and shattering racial barriers in the process. According to USA Today, Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr. was recently appointed to become the Air Force’s chief of staff, making him the first African American general to sit at the helm of a U.S. military branch.

Brown, who has had a decorated career in the military, started serving over three decades ago after he became a graduate of Texas Tech University’s ROTC program. The fighter pilot has over 2,900 flying hours and has held several high-level positions that include Executive Director of Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Air Component Commander for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and Commander of Pacific Air Forces. In his new role, he will be responsible for overseeing the training of over 600,000 active-duty, guard, reserve and civilian forces based in the U.S. and abroad.

Brown took oath at a recent ceremony at the Maryland-based Joint Base Andrews. During the ceremony, he gave a poignant speech about standing on the shoulders of Black servicemen who came before him. “This is a very historic day for our nation and I do not take this lightly,” he said. “Today is possible due to the perseverance of those who went before me, serving as an inspiration to me and so many others. It is due to their trials and tribulations in breaking barriers that I can address you today as the Air Force chief of staff.”

News about Gen. Brown’s appointment comes nearly a month after Lieutenant Junior Grade Madeline Swegle became the first Black woman tactical air pilot in the U.S. Navy.

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