August 5, 2015

Little Erroll: The Story of Admiral Erroll M. Brown, First Black Coast Guard Admiral

"Erroll always listened to his teachers, completed his school work & stayed out of trouble. The teachers were very fond of him because he was a bright student. 
He loved to read and he especially loved math!"

August marks the anniversary of the U.S. Coast Guard, established in 1789, and I thought it would be the perfect time to review the picture book Little Erroll: The Story of Admiral Erroll Mingo Brown: First Black Coast Guard Admiral, about the first African-American to become an admiral in the United States Coast Guard.

Erroll Brown was born in Ocala, Florida in 1950 and came from modest beginnings. He lived with his grandparents, and did many chores for them around the house including washing clothes and mowing the lawn. One day he asks his grandpa if he could help with steering the tractor. Because he was so small, his grandfather did not want Errol to help with such a dangerous job, but Errol insisted that if he sat on his grandpa's lap, he could steer the wheel - and that's just what he did.

It is with that persistence and perseverance that allowed Erroll to make honor roll in high school and play football despite constantly being teased for being small. When Erroll receives a letter to attend the Coast Guard Academy, he accepts and attends in 1968. At times, he struggled in his studies, but after meeting a black Coast Guard captain, he was determined to succeed and completed his engineering program. In 1972, Erroll was presented with his officer commission by the vice president of the United States, and eventually becomes became the first African-American  admiral in the Coast Guard.

Erroll Brown went up against racism in a post-segregation society and had many challenges along the way, but he never let that keep him from his goal. The book Little Erroll: The Story of Admiral Erroll Mingo Brown: First Black Coast Guard Admiral is a wonderful book for all children, as it teaches the important lesson that with hard work and perseverance, you can achieve your dreams.

Written by: Shameen E. Anthanio-Williams

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