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Community to celebrate life of late activist Brown


Bob Brown lived in Boston for 47 of his 70 years, and he was always looking to find a way.

The late community activist, who died Aug. 16, 2009, worked with many organizations at different times in his life, including the NAACP, ACORN, the Black Panther Party and the Boston Workers Alliance. But mostly, he was a force all by himself.

Robert (Bobby) Joe Brown was the eldest son of the late Rufus and Ruby Primous-Brown. He was born in Bullock County, Ga., on Aug. 19, 1939, and died on Aug. 16, 2009. After graduating from high school in Georgia, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving 10 years as an industrial steam engineer, and served two tours in Vietnam. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Navy, he graduated from Suffolk University in Boston with a degree in electrical engineering.

Friends and family will hold a celebration of Brown’s life on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009, at noon at Eliot Church, located 56 Dale Street in Roxbury, at the corner of Walnut Avenue.

A son of a sharecropper in Georgia, Brown’s family urged him to go north for a variety of reasons. His memories and observations as a man of color in Georgia and Massachusetts during times of historic social upheaval fueled his activism. He would always find a way to be a force for social and economic justice. He couldn’t help it, friends say.

His actions ran the gamut from big-picture to small-scale, such as the time he walked into an empty park, saw a group of kids and decided to form a baseball team. He led that team, the Panthers, for five years at Washington Park, buying their uniforms, helping the children learn discipline and serving as a mentor to young men at a critical time in their lives.

Brown also paid attention to the workings of democracy, serving as a delegate to the last six Massachusetts state Democratic conventions. While he had long been active in local elections, he was particularly energized by the gubernatorial campaign of Deval Patrick.

The campaign theme, “Together We Can,” aimed to bring together people who had never before participated in politics. Brown tried to do his part, talking to people on the street about issues, working at Patrick’s campaign headquarters and on the phone banks, lending his presence to many stand-outs and supporting the campaign with all of his heart.

Brown went back home to Georgia three days before he passed away. There, he was laid to rest.