The Fordham Law community is mourning the passing of Reginald T. Brewster ’50. Brewster was one of the 16,000 Tuskegee Airmen who served during World War II and was one of the few surviving airmen. He died on October 26 at the age of 103.
The all African-American group consisted of pilots, air traffic controllers, technicians, navigators, ground controllers, maintenance workers, and other support staff who were denied military roles in the U.S. armed forces.
“Reginald Brewster was an extraordinary man and a trailblazer. We are so proud he was a graduate of our Law School. He embodied our focus on working “In the Service of Others” throughout his career and life. Our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones,” said Dean Matthew Diller.
Brewster was trained at the Tuskegee Air Force base—the first military base in the country to train African-American pilots—and served as secretary to the Air Force Base Commander while based in England and France. Though he never flew, he later sustained a shrapnel injury during the war and was honorably discharged. Brewster returned to discrimination and segregation in the United States, but was determined to get an education.
“I realized that education was the key to my promotion [and]my advancement back in the United States,” Brewster said in an exclusive 2018 interview with Fordham Law School.
Brewster studied government and math at Fordham College before attending and graduating from Fordham Law in 1950. He practiced civil law in the New York City area, beginning in 1951, until his retirement in 2007 at age 90. During that same year, the Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. In April 2012, Brewster joined fellow surviving Tuskegee Airmen Dabney Montgomery and Wilfred DeFour on the famed Yankee Stadium field to be recognized on Jackie Robinson Day.
Fordham Law’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA) shared thoughts about Brewster’s passing and his impact on future Black law students and lawyers.
“Through his groundbreaking efforts, Mr. Brewster served as a trailblazer for all Black students who attend Fordham today,” BLSA’s statement read. “In 2018, Fordham BLSA was honored to select Brewster as the recipient of its Ruth Whitehead Whaley Award, which recognizes alumni who demonstrate excellence in the legal profession and provide a model of emerging Black lawyers to aspire to.”
One of Brewster’s lifelong goals was to keep the rich history of African-American patriots alive.
“I don’t think the contributions that Blacks have made should be minimized,” he said in 2018. “It’s not the height that we attained, but it’s the depth from which we came.”