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Former Mayor Dinkins Among Those Marking the 41st Anniversary of a Signature Bronx Event and Its Legendary Cofounder

Former Mayor David Dinkins and a host of New York City luminaries came to City Hall on Thursday, April 18, to honor the late Dr. Roscoe C. Brown Jr, a legendary New Yorker whose legacy still touches the lives of so many in the city he served and loved.

The occasion was a New York City Council Proclamation hailing Dr. Brown as one of the Tuskegee Airmen, who “played a critical role fighting for democracy in the skies over Europe” and “in our schools as a tireless educator and activist,” most notably as president of Bronx Community College (BCC) from 1977 to 1993. In that role, President Brown helped launch “Run the Bronx.” That celebration of health and fitness, which each year attracts 1500 racers from around the world, was also praised by the proclamation and the people who gathered to hear it read.

“Dr. Brown, an avid runner who ran in nine New York City marathons, was also deeply concerned about the health and well-being of the community,” read the proclamation. “In 1978, he co-founded the race later called ‘Run the Bronx,’ and today officially known as the ‘Roscoe C. Brown Jr. Hall of Fame 10K, 5K and 2-Mile Walk.’ Now in its 41st year, Run the Bronx is a major annual event in the Bronx and the second oldest footrace in the five boroughs.”

The proclamation ceremonies began on the steps of City Hall, where BCC’s current President Thomas A. Iskenegbe welcomed the celebrants and described the Run the Bronx experience. “It starts and ends on the BCC campus and weaves through the streets of our borough of dreamers, strivers and achievers,” the President said. He was followed by Bronx City Council Member Fernando Cabrera, who introduced Mayor Dinkins, the city’s first African-American occupant of Gracie Mansion — an achievement he credits in part to the counsel of Roscoe Brown.

Mayor Dinkins spoke with great warmth and admiration about his good friend. ”He was an amazing human being and a wonderfully nice guy,” said the mayor,  citing among Dr. Brown’s accomplishments the formation of “One Hundred Black Men,” a group which has fostered generations of black leadership. “I am pleased to see so many of you here. When the little ones ask you ‘Who was Roscoe Brown?’ you can tell them he was one helluva cat.”

Bronxite and City Council Member Vanessa Gibson was also on hand to pay tribute to Dr. Brown, hailing him for “evolving the Bronx and making sure we’d focused on health and wellness and fitness as a borough because we know the Bronx struggles with that. When you think about pioneers and leaders, that is Roscoe Brown.”

The ceremony then moved indoors to the Council chamber, where the proclamation was read. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, the signatory of the proclamation, saluted Dr. Brown and Mayor Dinkins before handing the microphone to Dr. Brown’s son, Dr. Dennis Brown, who delivered a stirring account of his father’s exploits in combat and a pep talk for those planning to run in this year’s Run the Bronx. “As you’re facing the obstacles of the undulating hills of Grand Concourse that Roscoe Brown ran so many times, he would tell us it is our pursuit of excellence that will overcome obstacles.”

The spirit of President Brown will live again on May 4 when his successor, President Isekenegbe, sounds the starter’s horn at 10:00 a.m. sharp on the campus of Bronx Community College and hundreds of racers tear through the streets of University Heights for the 41st Run the Bronx.

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