Originally from Washington, DC, Brian Roberts received his Bachelor’s degree in Urban Affairs from Virginia Tech in 1985. As a student at Virginia Tech, Brian was instrumental in the founding of the Virginia Tech chapter of the NAACP and the Black Organizations Council, also known as BOC. During his tenure as President of the NAACP at VT, he presented the first student proposal for a Black Cultural Center to be housed within the Squires Student Center. As the Founding Chair of BOC, Brian wrote BOC’s first Constitution and Bylaws. For his dedication and service to African American students and the university community, Brian received the Vice President for Student Affairs Student Leadership Award, the University Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Award, the 1982-1983 NAACP Outstanding Member Award, and the 1983 Omega Man of the Year Award from Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
After graduating from Virginia Tech, Brian worked as a community and tenant organizer at the Metropolitan Washington Planning and Housing Association. In 1993, he obtained his Juris Doctorate from the University of Minnesota. While in law school, Brian served as the national Chairperson for the National Black Law Students Association from 1992-1993. As Chair, he was honored with presenting the first keynote address at the founding conference for the National Black Law Students of England and Wales. He represented capital clients in Texas, Alabama, and New York and also worked as a trial attorney at community-based defender programs in Washington, D.C. and New York City. In 2004, he lectured on the role of non-governmental organizations in legislative and judicial advocacy at the International Conference on the Application of the Death Penalty in Commonwealth Africa held in Entebbe, Uganda. Brian served as Interim Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty from 2003-2004. Most recently, he was an attorney with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia and served as the coordinator of the Institutional Services Program for prison rights, which provides legal advice and representation to D.C. Code offenders incarcerated in local, state and federal facilities.
In addition to his involvement on the Virginia Tech Black Cultural Center Alumni Advisory Board (BCCAAB) and the VT Regional Committee for the University Capital Campaign, Brian served on the Board of Directors of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Journey of Hope, and “Murder Victim Families for Human Rights.” He was also a member of the National Conference of Black Lawyers and continued his commitment to the university by playing a role in the endowing of three scholarships for African American students at Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech was most fortunate in the spring of 2011 when Brian returned to campus and met with the executive board of the Black Organizations Council to share the history of BOC, and also served as the keynote speaker for the Donning of the Kente Ceremony.
Brian’s unfortunate death in the spring of 2014 was a great loss, not only to his family, friends and colleagues, but also to the Virginia Tech community. As a motivated and passionate student leader, trailblazer for Black and African American students’ rights, and committed Hokie alum, it was no surprise that Brian left his entire personal library to the Black Cultural Center.