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Johnson-Brown to be honored at Arlington National Cemetery ceremony

November 6, 2017   /   by Rob Riordan


One of George Mason University’s, and the nation’s, foremost trailblazers will be honored at Arlington National Cemetery this weekend.

The life of the late General Hazel Johnson-Brown, a career U.S. Army nurse who later became a professor at George Mason where she taught and mentored many nursing students, will be celebrated on Sunday, Nov. 12, at a reception at the cemetery’s Women in Military Service for America Memorial.

Johnson-Brown became the first African American woman to achieve the rank of general in 1979. She also served as chief of the 7,000-member Army Nurse Corps. Her accomplishments are highlighted at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., where her brigadier general’s uniform is on display.

One of seven children, Johnson-Brown attended the Harlem Hospital School of Nursing before enlisting in the Army in 1955, serving in Japan and South Korea as well as across the United States. After earning degrees from Villanova and Columbia University, and a doctorate from Catholic University, she began a second career as an educator. Johnson-Brown founded Mason’s Center for Health Policy, now the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics, in 1989 and retired in 1996. She died in Delaware in 2011 at the age of 83.

An endowed scholarship fund in her name, benefitting deserving students in the College of Health and Human Services, honors her commitment to educating nursing students.

The lieutenant governor of Delaware, Bethany Hall-Long, PhD Nursing ’93, who was among Johnson-Brown’s students, is scheduled to speak at the event. Others paying tribute include the new dean of the College of Health and Human Services, Germaine Louis; General Clara Adams-Ender (U.S. Army, retired); and Gloria Smith, Johnson-Brown’s sister.