- Stacey Hamilton
Brown, Ron (01 August 1941–03 April 1996), secretary of commerce and Democratic party leader, was born Ronald Harmon Brown in Washington, D.C., the son of William Brown, who worked for the New Deal–era Federal Housing and Home Finance Agency, and Gloria Elexine Brown. In 1947 the family moved to Harlem in New York City, where William Brown had been hired as the manager of the famed Hotel Theresa, the lodging of choice for celebrated black musicians, civic leaders, athletes, and writers. Ron spent much of his youth there, soaking up the rich cultural life of the hotel and meeting many of its famous residents. On graduating in 1958 from Rhodes, a private preparatory school in Manhattan, he entered Middlebury College in Vermont, becoming one of only three black students in the school and the first black to be initiated into his fraternity.
A fair student Brown was ...
A version of this article originally appeared in American National Biography.