Brown, Sterling Nelson, Sr.
- Daniel Donaghy
was born into slavery in Roane County, East Tennessee. In his autobiography, My Own Life Story, Brown writes that his father was “at least seven-eighths Caucasian and possibly one-eighth Negro. His family record was never known by him or the general public.” His father worked as a carpenter, blacksmith, and utility man whose competence earned him the nickname “Handy.” He married Brown’s mother when she was seventeen. Brown noted that while she spoke little of religion in their home, she was a member of the Methodist church and believed that Jesus Christ was her personal savior. From an early age people called her “Aunt Clara” because her caring nature and service to those around her. Brown’s 1929 record of death lists his mother as Clarisa and his father as Handy Brown Clarisa gave birth to thirteen children only three of whom all boys were alive when Sterling Brown ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.