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date: 04 June 2020

Brown, Ronald H. locked

1941–1996 Businessman and politician; first African American to serve as chairman of a national political party, the first black chief counsel of a Senate standing committee, and the first black Secretary of Commerce.
  • Alonford James Robinson

Extract

Born in Washington, D.C., Ron Brown grew up in Harlem, New York. He graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1962, after becoming the first black student to pledge a fraternity there. He enlisted in the United States Army. After his service, Brown worked for the National Urban League in New York while earning his law degree at night from St. John's University in 1970. He held several positions in the Urban League from 1968 to 1979, including general counsel, chief Washington spokesperson, deputy executive director, and vice president of Washington operations.

In Washington, D.C., Brown became active in the Democratic Party, and in 1979 he served as deputy manager of U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy's presidential campaign. A year later Kennedy appointed him the chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 1982 Brown resigned from the senate committee to become deputy ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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