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Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. testifies during a Senate Armed Services hearing on May 7. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate unanimously confirmed Gen. Charles "CQ" Brown Jr. as Air Force chief of staff in a historic vote presided over by Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Brown, the commander of Pacific Air Forces, is the first African American chief of a military service branch in U.S. history and will sit on the elite Joint Chiefs of Staff.

  • Gen. Colin Powell, an African American four-star general who served in multiple administrations, served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993.

The big picture: In the midst of mass upheaval over the killing of George Floyd and the treatment of black Americans by police, Brown reflected in a viral video message last week about his position as one of only two African American four-star generals currently serving in the U.S. military.

  • "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.”
  • "I'm thinking about ... 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.”
  • "I'm thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn't always sing of liberty and equality. I'm thinking about living in two worlds, each with their own perspective and views."
  • "I’m thinking about wearing the same flight suit, with the same wings on my chest as my peers, and then being questioned by another military member: ‘Are you a pilot?’"

What's next: Brown will be tasked with getting the Space Force program up and running, the New York Times reports.

Go deeper

Ben Carson defends Trump against accusations of racism at RNC

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson defended President Trump against accusations of racism at the Republican National Convention on Thursday.

Why it matters: Carson, the only Black member of Trump's Cabinet, has become a loyal ally and defender of the president since running against him in the 2016 Republican primary.

Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

Japan's Naomi Osaka lights Olympic cauldron, kicking off Tokyo Games

Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic cauldron. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

After a year-long delay, the Olympics finally got underway Friday as tennis star Naomi Osaka, who is competing for Japan, lit the cauldron, formally kicking off the Tokyo Games.

The big picture: Friday's opening ceremony looked, like many things over the last year, different than normal — multicolored seats replaced cheering fans, masks were a central part of the athletes' uniforms and a subdued, somber tone marked the occasion.

2 hours ago - World

China sanctions Wilbur Ross, 5 other Americans over Hong Kong warnings

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Chinese government imposed sanctions on Monday against six Americans, including former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in response to an advisory from the Biden administration warning businesses of the increased risks of operating in Hong Kong.

Why it matters: It's the latest example of China responding furiously to U.S. attempts to shed light on human rights abuses in places like Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, which Chinese officials routinely condemn as "interference" in domestic affairs.