NAACP Bradford Brown
Civil rights leader garners respect
By Johnston Ayala
January 12, 2003
As first vice president of the NAACP's
Miami-Dade County branch, Bradford Brown was used to stepping in for the
president, Bishop Victor T. Curry when the pastor's duties at New Birth Baptist
Church kept him from meetings or appointments.
But when Curry resigned
unexpectedly as branch president of the nation's oldest civil rights
organization a year and a half ago, Brown had to assess the implications of
taking over the leadership.
"When you're vice president, you don't really
expect the president to leave," said Brown, one of a handful of whites to head
an NAACP branch. "But I felt that it would be irresponsible of me not to fulfill
Brown's decision to serve raised eyebrows in Miami-Dade and
across the country, however, as many wondered why Miami could not find a black
leader to head the local chapter of the nation's oldest civil rights
That changed after Curry, a strong supporter of Brown, urged the
audience of South Florida's leading black radio station, "99 Jamz" (WEDR, FM
99.1), to tell listeners that Brown was no "Johnny-come-lately" to the civil
rights movement and deserved respect.
A civil rights leader for 40 years,
Brown, 63, wagered that the community would judge him on the basis of his
record, and it has.
Brown was so successful in completing the year and a
half remaining of Curry's unexpired term that he was unopposed for the
president's job, and on Monday walks unopposed into his own full two-year term.
Supporters cite Brown's popularity and extensive experience for their confidence
in his leadership.
"He has an understanding of where we need to go and
how we need to get there," said Adora Obi Nweze, state president of the NAACP
and former head of the Miami-Dade branch. "He knows what the leadership mantle
is all about and what he needs to do to be successful."
current first vice president of the Miami-Dade branch, said Brown's four decades
of dedication and service set him apart.
"He is a champion, a legacy in
my opinion," Johnson said. "In civil rights he is not only known in South
Florida but in many states for his efforts. He has been through the
Brown's involvement in the NAACP dates to 1962, when he
returned to his native Massachusetts after earning a master's degree from Auburn
University. He participated in the 1963 march on Washington, worked for the
organization in Alabama and was active with NAACP chapters in Massachusetts and
"I wasn't that different from a lot of people from the
Northeast in that I was pulling for desegregation," Brown said of his initial
involvement in civil rights. "The difference is I have stayed in as a lifelong
The 94th annual convention, scheduled for July in
Miami Beach, will take place as planned, Brown said, and will attract thousands
Aside from planning for the national meeting, the
3,000-member branch is handling a full civil rights agenda, including voter
registration and education and the Haitian
Copyright Ā 2003, South Florida
Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel