For the past two weeks I have been on cloud nine beginning with a reception held in my honor by California State University San Bernardino and Hardy Brown College Prep Elementary School, a Fortune School. This all came about because the California State University Board of Trustees voted unanimously to award me an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree as they said for extraordinary commitment to the Inland Empire and unparalleled leadership of Brown Publishing Company, California Black Media, and the Black Voice Foundation. That reception brought me in contact with some longtime friends like Don Griggs, Dr. Herb Fischer, Shelby Obershaw (who served on the Board of Education with me), my brother Floyd Brown who brought me to California in the first place, and all of my children, grandkids, and great grandkids.
There were others, too many to begin mentioning by name, and of course Margaret Fortune was on hand to give all who were there a tour of the school named in my honor. This school currently has an 802 API test score and is 91% African American with other ethnic groups seeking to enroll.
Then came the African American Student graduation at CSUSB. They invited me to participate with them. They (I should say we) had a blast with a motivational speaker that inspired the crowd and attendees. Then they presented me with a Certificate of Recognition and Kente Cloth to wear at the commencement ceremony on Saturday.
Then, this past Saturday was my big day to walk (ride in my power chair) into Coussoulis Arena where over three thousand attendees waited for the staff and faculty of CSUSB to enter and address the graduates. It was a sight to behold especially for this country boy from the segregated south in North Carolina where I harvested tobacco and picked cotton on a sharecropper’s farm.
As I was introduced by President Dr. Tomás Morales and hooded by Board Trustee Margaret Fortune and my daughter Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds, I thought of my father and mother, my wife of 51 years, children and their children sitting in the audience and said to myself “God has truly been good to me. He has brought me from a mighty long way and has showered me with an abundance of blessings of family and friends.” I had about $75 in my pocket when I left home and no job to look forward to. I knew no one in California but my brother and he was in Victorville. I was in Los Angeles.
But like my mom said “take what I have given you in your heart and head and with God’s blessing you should be alright.” Then after the ceremony, the family gathered at the house to share Father’s Day since all of the kids were together and that is where the real blessings were fully realized. As the kids, grandkids and great grandkids ran through the house and many conversations went on at the same time, I repeated my thanks to my father in heaven for making me a such blessed man on earth.