Ron Brown (U.S. politician)

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Ron Brown
RonBrownUS.JPG
30th United States Secretary of Commerce
In office
January 22, 1993 April 3, 1996
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Barbara Franklin
Succeeded by Mickey Kantor
Chair of the Democratic National Committee
In office
February 11, 1989 January 21, 1993
Preceded by Paul G. Kirk
Succeeded by David Wilhelm
Personal details
Born
Ronald Harmon Brown

(1941-08-01)August 1, 1941
Washington, D.C., U.S.
DiedApril 3, 1996(1996-04-03) (aged 54)
near Dubrovnik, Croatia
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s)Alma Arrington
Children2
Education Middlebury College (BA)
St. John's University, New York (JD)
Military service
AllegianceFlag of the United States (Pantone).svg United States
Branch/serviceFlag of the United States Army.svg  United States Army
Years of service1962–1967
Rank US Army O3 shoulderboard rotated.svg Captain
Battles/wars Vietnam War

Ronald Harmon Brown (August 1, 1941 – April 3, 1996) was an American politician. He served as the United States Secretary of Commerce during the first term of President Bill Clinton. Prior to this he was chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). He was the first African American to hold these positions. He was killed, along with 34 others, in a 1996 plane crash in Croatia.

United States Secretary of Commerce Government position

The United States Secretary of Commerce (SecCom) is the head of the United States Department of Commerce. The Secretary is appointed by the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the United States Senate and serves in the President's Cabinet. The Secretary is concerned with promoting American businesses and industries; the Department states its mission to be "to foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce".

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Bill Clinton 42nd president of the United States

William Jefferson Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd president of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Prior to the presidency, he was the governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981, and again from 1983 to 1992, and the attorney general of Arkansas from 1977 to 1979. A member of the Democratic Party, Clinton was ideologically a New Democrat, and many of his policies reflected a centrist "Third Way" political philosophy.

Contents

Early life and political career

Ron Brown was born in Washington, D.C., and was raised in Harlem, New York, in a middle-class family. He was a member of an African-American social and philanthropic organization, Jack and Jill of America. Brown attended Hunter College Elementary School and Rhodes Preparatory School. His father managed the Theresa Hotel in Harlem, where Brown lived growing up. His best friend John R. Nailor moved into the penthouse while a student at Rhodes. Nailor was one of the other few black students who attended Rhodes Prep. As a child, Brown appeared in an advertisement for Pepsi-Cola, one of the first to be targeted specifically towards the African-American community. [1]

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, the first president of the United States and a Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

New York (state) State of the United States of America

New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. In order to distinguish the state from the city with the same name, it is sometimes referred to as New York State.

Hunter College Elementary School is a New York City elementary school for intellectually gifted students, located on Manhattan's Upper East Side. It is administered by Hunter College, a senior college of the City University of New York or CUNY.

While at Middlebury College, Ron Brown became the first African-American member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, collegiate fraternity. As a result, the national charter of SPE at Middlebury was rescinded and the fraternity became a local known as Sigma Epsilon. Brown joined the United States Army in 1962, after graduating from Middlebury, and served in South Korea and Europe, the same year he married Alma Arrington. After being discharged in 1967, Brown joined the National Urban League, a leading economic equality group in the United States. Meanwhile, Brown enrolled in law school at St. John's University and obtained a degree in 1970.[ citation needed ]

Middlebury College private liberal arts college located in Middlebury, Vermont in the United States

Middlebury College is a private liberal arts college in Middlebury, Vermont. It was founded in 1800 by Congregationalists, making it the first operating college or university in Vermont. The college currently enrolls 2,526 undergraduates from all 50 states and 74 countries and offers 44 majors in the arts, humanities, literature, foreign languages, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Sigma Phi Epsilon North American collegiate fraternity

Sigma Phi Epsilon (ΣΦΕ), commonly known as SigEp, is a social college fraternity for male college students in the United States. It was founded on November 1, 1901, at Richmond College, and its national headquarters remains in Richmond, Virginia. It was founded on three principles: Virtue, Diligence, and Brotherly Love. Sigma Phi Epsilon is one of the largest social fraternities in the United States in terms of current undergraduate membership.

Fraternities and sororities, or Greek letter organizations (GLOs), are social organizations at colleges and universities. A form of the social fraternity, they are prominent in the United States and the Philippines, with much smaller numbers existing in France, Canada, and elsewhere. Similar organizations exist in other countries as well, including the Studentenverbindungen of German-speaking countries.

Rise in the Democratic Party

Ron Brown at the podium RonaldHarmonBrown.jpg
Ron Brown at the podium

By 1976, Brown had been promoted to Deputy Executive Director for Programs and Governmental Affairs of the National Urban League. However, he resigned in 1979 to work as a deputy campaign manager for Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who sought the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Brown was hired in 1981 by the Washington, D.C., law firm Patton Boggs as a lawyer and a lobbyist.[ citation needed ]

Squire Patton Boggs Global law firm

Squire Patton Boggs is an international law firm with 47 offices in 20 countries. It was formed in 2014 by the merger of multinational law firm Squire Sanders with Washington, D.C. based Patton Boggs. It is one of the 30 largest law firms in the world by total headcount and gross revenue, twelfth largest firm in the UK by revenue, and one of the top 10 by number of countries occupied. It is also one of the largest US-headquartered law firms in Asia. Its largest offices are in Washington, London and Cleveland, each having more than 100 lawyers. The firm serves a diverse base of legal clients ranging from Fortune 100 and FTSE Index 100 corporations to newly emerging companies, private clients and local and national governmental entities.

Lawyer legal professional who helps clients and represents them in a court of law

A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney, attorney at law, barrister, barrister-at-law, bar-at-law, canonist, canon lawyer, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, counsellor, solicitor, legal executive, or public servant preparing, interpreting and applying law, but not as a paralegal or charter executive secretary. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who hire lawyers to perform legal services.

Lobbying attempting to influence decisions of government officials

Lobbying, persuasion, or interest representation is the act of attempting to influence the actions, policies, or decisions of officials in their daily life, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying is done by many types of people, associations and organized groups, including individuals in the private sector, corporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or advocacy groups. Lobbyists may be among a legislator's constituencies, meaning a voter or bloc of voters within their electoral district; they may engage in lobbying as a business. Professional lobbyists are people whose business is trying to influence legislation, regulation, or other government decisions, actions, or policies on behalf of a group or individual who hires them. Individuals and nonprofit organizations can also lobby as an act of volunteering or as a small part of their normal job. Governments often define and regulate organized group lobbying that has become influential.

In May 1988, Brown was named by Jesse L. Jackson to head Jackson's convention team at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. Brown was named along with several other experienced party insiders to Jackson's convention operation. By June, it was apparent that Brown was also running Jackson's campaign. [2]

Chair of Democratic National Committee

Brown was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee on February 10, 1989, and played an integral role in running a successful 1992 Democratic National Convention and in Bill Clinton's successful 1992 presidential run.

Secretary of Commerce

President Clinton then appointed Brown to the position of Secretary of Commerce in 1993. Clinton's highest priority was bolstering the economy, not diplomacy, and Brown produced results. He led delegations of entrepreneurs, businessmen and financiers to South Africa, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Egypt, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Ireland India and Senegal. He was leading a trade mission en route to Yugoslavia when all passengers died in a plane crash. [3]

During his tenure Brown was involved in the Commerce Department trade mission controversy.

Death

USAF MH-53J Pave Low helicopter over wreckage of the USAF CT-43A approximately 3 kilometers north of the Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia, April 4, 1996. USAF CT-43A crash 1996.jpg
USAF MH-53J Pave Low helicopter over wreckage of the USAF CT-43A approximately 3 kilometers north of the Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia, April 4, 1996.

On April 3, 1996, when Brown was 54 and on an official trade mission, a U.S. Air Force CT-43 (a modified Boeing 737) carrying Brown and 34 other people, including New York Times Frankfurt Bureau chief Nathaniel C. Nash, crashed in Croatia. While attempting an instrument approach to Dubrovnik's Čilipi airport, the airplane crashed into a mountainside. Everyone aboard was killed instantly except Air Force Tech. Sgt. Shelly Kelly, a flight attendant, who died while being transported to a hospital. [4] The final Air Force investigation attributed the crash to pilot error and a poorly designed landing approach. [5] Speculations as to the circumstances surrounding the plane crash that caused Brown's death include many government cover-up and conspiracy theories, largely based on Brown having been under investigation by independent counsel for corruption. [6] Of specific concern was a trip Brown had made to Vietnam on behalf of the Clinton Administration. Brown carried an offer for normalizing relations between the United States and the former communist enemy.

Some, including Kweisi Mfume - head of the NAACP at the time - and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, had written federal officials to ask for more data on the suspicious circumstances of Brown's death. "Responding to homicide allegations, an official of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology acknowledged that doctors initially were puzzled by a circular wound on the top of Brown's head when his remains were recovered at the crash scene. The forensic pathologist then consulted with others and took extensive X-rays. As a result of these consultations and full-body X-rays, we absolutely ruled out anything beyond a blunt-force injury to the head." [7]

Brown was buried with full state honors in his hometown.[ citation needed ]

Honors and legacy

On January 8, 2001, Brown was presented, posthumously, with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton. The award was accepted by Brown's widow, Alma Brown. President Clinton also established the Ron Brown Award for corporate leadership and responsibility. The Conference Board administers the privately funded award. The U.S. Department of Commerce also gives out the annual Ronald H. Brown American Innovator Award in his honor.[ citation needed ]

Many academic scholarships and programs have been established to honor Brown. St. John's University School of Law established the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development in memorial. [8] The Ronald H. Brown fellowship is awarded annually to many students at Middlebury College to pursue research internships in science and technology, and the Ron Brown Scholar Program was established in Brown's honor in 1996 to provide academic scholarships, service opportunities and leadership experiences for young African Americans of outstanding promise.

A memorial room has been installed in the Ronald Brown memorial house in the old city of Dubrovnik. It features portraits of the crash victims as well as a guest book. [9]

The largest ship in the NOAA fleet, the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown, was named in honor of his public service not long after his death. The section of 14th Street between Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenue was renamed Ron Brown Way. [10]

In March 2011, the new United States Mission to the United Nations building in New York City was named in Brown's honor and dedicated at a ceremony in which President Obama, former President Clinton and the United States representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Susan Rice, spoke. [11]

In 1997, The Daniel C. Roper Middle School in Washington, DC was renamed the Ronald H. Brown Middle School in his honor. [12] That school was closed in 2013 and the building reopened as the Ronald Brown College Preparatory High School in 2016. [13]

His son Michael Brown was elected to the Council of the District of Columbia in 2008. [14] He lost his re-election campaign in 2012 and later pleaded guilty to the charge of accepting a bribe from undercover agents. [15] [16] He was sentenced to 39 months in prison. [17]

See also

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References

  1. Martin, Douglas (May 6, 2007). "Edward F. Boyd Dies at 92; Marketed Pepsi to Blacks". The New York Times . Retrieved May 5, 2007.
  2. Schwartz, Maralee (May 15, 1988). "JACKSON PICKS PARTY INSIDERS FOR ATLANTA". The Washington Post.
  3. Shirley Anne Warshaw, The Clinton Years (2009), pp. 49-50.
  4. Pilot error, poor equipment blamed for Brown plane crash Archived April 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine , CNN.com. Published June 7, 1996; accessed September 12, 2008.
  5. "U.S. Department of Defense". U.S. Department of Defense.
  6. Frieden, Terry, "Independent Counsel: No Conclusions On Brown Probe", CNN.com, November 14, 1996
  7. Robert L. Jackson (December 25, 1997). "Black Leaders Seek Conspiracy Probe in Brown's Death". LA Times.
  8. "Stjohns.edu". Archived from the original on May 30, 2009.
  9. "Ronald Brown memorial house" . Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  10. "Ron Brown Way to honor late Commerce chief". USA Today. March 25, 2011.
  11. Remarks by the President at Dedication of the Ronald H. Brown United States Mission to the United Nations Building Whitehouse.gov
  12. Ronald H. Brown Building: Designation Act of 1997 http://www.openlims.org/public/L12-84.pdf Archived August 6, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  13. "The country's newest all-boys public high school opens its doors". Washington Post.
  14. "General Election 2008: Certified Results". District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. November 24, 2008. Archived from the original on January 25, 2009. Retrieved January 18, 2009.
  15. "Election Results 2012". The Washington Post. November 12, 2012. Archived from the original on December 26, 2014.
  16. Sommer, Will (June 10, 2013). "Michael Brown Pleads Guilty to Bribery". Washington City Paper.
  17. "Son of Former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown Pleaded Guilty to Federal Bribery Charge". The Afro. May 29, 2014.

Further reading

Party political offices
Preceded by
Paul G. Kirk
Chair of the Democratic National Committee
1989–1993
Succeeded by
David Wilhelm
Political offices
Preceded by
Barbara Franklin
United States Secretary of Commerce
1993–1996
Succeeded by
Mickey Kantor