Brigadier General Roscoe Conklin Cartwright was born on 27 May 1919 in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised in Tulsa. A 1936 graduate of Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School, he is a 1960 graduate of San Francisco State University, and earned an MBA from the University of Missouri.
He was the first African-American graduate of any Army Officer Candidate School to be promoted to Brigadier General; was the second African-American to be promoted to Brigadier General in the desegregated Army; and the fourth African-American to achieve flag rank in the history of the U.S. Armed Forces.
BG Cartwright served a 33-year career in the United States Army 1941 - 1974. He was drafted into WWII, and subsequently served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He retired in 1974.
During his career, BG Cartwright received 25 awards and decorations including two Legion of Merit medals, three Bronze Stars, two Air Medals and three Army Commendation Medals. He and his wife were tragically killed in a commercial plane crash several months after retirement.
His career leadership inspired the creation of ROCKS, Inc., an officer mentoring organization that has 23 active chapters across the Army. Membership in ROCKS is open to active, reserve, retired, and former officers of the Armed Forces established with the explicit purpose of contributing “to strengthening the Army’s Officer Corps professionalism and to build a stronger, culturally diverse force.” With over 1,100 members, it is the largest professional military officers’ organization with a majority African-American membership. Originally, the group was not named, but after Cartwright’s death, it was named for his nickname, “Rock”!
BG Cartwright is a member of the following Halls of Fame: West Virginia State College (University) ROTC; Booker T. Washington High School (Tulsa); and Fort Sill Artillery OCS. The Roscoe C. Cartwright Prince Hall Masonic Lodge #129 (Oxon Hill, MD) is dedicated to his memory. He was the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity’s national Member of the Year in 1974.