The Senate voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve Gen. Charles Brown, Jr. to be the Air Force’s chief of staff, making him the first black American in US history to lead a military service.
The Senate voted 98-0 to approve Brown with senators Bob Casey and Ben Cardin not casting votes.
Brown was previously the Pacific Air Forces commander following a career in the Air Force that spans more than three decades, and includes commanding a fighter squadron and serving as deputy commander for US Central Command.
With representatives from each military service branch, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where Brown will now serve, collectively advises the president and security councils on military affairs.
Brown issued a video message in response to the death of George Floyd last week in which he reflected on the state of racial justice in America.
“Here’s what I’m thinking about: I’m 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,” he said in the video, which went viral.
“I’m thinking about protests in my country, tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, the equality expressed in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that I’ve sworn my adult life to support and defend. I’m thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty and equality.”
The video has been retweeted more than 27,000 times.
Floyd died May 25 in a fatal arrest in which a white Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer pinned his neck to the ground for nearly nine minutes, ignoring his pleas that he could not breathe as the officer’s knee rested on his neck.