J. Arthur Brown papers
The J. Arthur Brown Papers are divided into five series:
Series I: Correspondence (1937-1988, undated) is the largest; it details Brown’s work within the Civil Rights movement. The correspondence includes a letter (1937) from Governor Olin T. Johnston; letter regarding segregation of St. Mark’s Church within the Diocese of SC; integration of Edisto State Park; assisting black students dismissed from SC State University, from a letter (1956) of Septima Clark; demanding an African-American correspondent on the News & Courier staff and a reply from editor Tom Waring; letter (1960) regarding unspecified incidents involving African American players during a Baltimore Colts visit to Charleston; the visit (1960) of baseball player Jackie Robinson to Charleston; hate mail calling Brown a trouble maker and an agitator; a death threat from the National Association for the Advancement of White People; photocopy of a letter (1962) regarding College of Charleston not admitting Gretta Middleton because of her race; letter of support for O.T. Wallace as SC Federal Judge; police brutality exposed in Darlington, SC; comment of Levi G. Byrd regarding Cheraw NAACP; integration of Charleston YMCA; letters (1965) regarding discrimination at Charleston hospitals; threats from the James Island White Citizens Council; letter (1968) regarding Ernest Hollings’ work helping the African American community with a mention of James Clyburn. Other correspondence covers Brown’s involvement with COBRA and other related subjects. Other letters either original or photocopy includes correspondants such as Walter White of the NAACP, Judge J. Waties Waring, Thurgood Marshall, I. DeQuincey Newman, Matthew Perry, his daughter Millicent, Governor John C. West, Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Charleston Police Chiefs William F. Kelley, John Conroy, and others. Non-civil rights correspondence detail work with the Petersfield Human Services Corporation a social services organization on Yonges Island to improve the conditions of the inhabitants, Voorhees College, Charleston School District, Humane Friendly Society (burial society), Charleston urban development, as well as different work with programs dealing with mental retardation, the handicapped, and other community-minded groups.
Series II: Biographical Materials and Affiliations (1930-1987) include newspaper clippings of articles regarding Brown’s work within the NAACP and around Charleston, a speech he delivered on civil rights, photocopies of court documents (1960-1963) regarding integration of Charleston schools and parks, awards received from miscellaneous organizations; other materials relate to Brown’s family including his wife Mae De. and his daughter Millicent. Contains Brown’s diploma (1937) from SC State College as well as his sister Arthurlee Brown McFarlin’s diploma (1949) from SC State College. Also included are documents and newspaper clippings regarding NAACP throughout SC and Charleston; COBRA regarding witness statements of an incident of an African American being shot by police and police harassing and arresting African-American adolescents (1973,1978) and programs for events held, minutes and agendas from Voorhees College Board of Trustees; Petersfield Human Services Corporation documents including minutes, agendas, programs, and petitions, as well as official paperwork on establishment of PHSC; Avery class (1930-1933) reunion rosters and donation lists (1978); Humane Friendly Society financial records (1966-1979).
Series III: Real Estate and Business Finance Records (1964-1987) cover deeds, terms of sale, as well as rent and expenses for property owned by Brown and his family.
Series IV:Business and Personal Date Books/Planners (1972-1987) detail daily events and affairs of Brown (1972, 1984-1987).
Series V: Photographs and General Materials (1950-1988) show Brown and his family including daughter Millicent’s high school graduation, family gatherings; and colleagues such as Rev. I. De Quincey Newman, Judge J. Waties Waring, Sen. Strom Thurmond, and others. General items include programs from events attended; photocopies of witness statements given to Charleston police regarding police physically assaulting and harassing African Americans; newspaper clippings of events both local and national including 1960 presidential election, sit-downs, boycotts, local politics and happenings in Charleston and James Island, (1940’s-1980’s).
- Majority of material found within 1950-1988
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J. Arthur Brown was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1914 where he grew up and went to school. After graduating from the Avery Institute in 1932 he continued his education at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, SC, graduating in 1937. While at SCSC, Brown met his future wife MaeDe Esperanza Myers (1918-2012), marrying in 1940. The couple had three daughters: MaeDe Joenelle Gordon, Minerva King, and Dr. Millicent Brown; and one son, Myles Gregory Brown. He fathered a second son, Albert Wayne Gourdine, who was raised in Greeleyville. Mr. Brown moved back to Charleston where he became a businessman working as a real estate and insurance broker. As a businessman in Charleston, he became affiliated with the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Brown worked his way to becoming the president of the Charleston chapter of the NAACP in 1955. As president of the local chapter of the NAACP, Mr. Brown led a concerted effort to fight segregation in the public sphere. Through his work in the African-American Civil Rights movement, Mr. Brown became president of the South Carolina Conference of the NAACP in 1960-1965 where he continued his work towards equal rights for African Americans throughout South Carolina. His accomplishments as president of the NAACP in SC include the desegregation of Edisto State Park and others in the late 1950’s, desegregation of the Charleston Municipal Golf Course in 1961, desegregation of Charleston School District in 1963, as well as organizer and leader of multiple social movements such as sit-ins, and boycotts as well as participating in crucial court cases throughout the state of South Carolina.
Besides being an active member and officer in the NAACP, Mr. Brown was also a member on the Voorhees College Board of Trustees, member of the Mu Alpha Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, and a member of the South Carolina Democratic Party. He was constantly active in community service projects within Charleston and James Island where he fought for the African American community. In the 1970’s Mr. Brown was a co-founder and office holder of the Committee on Better Racial Assurance (COBRA) as well as the Petersfield Human Services Corporation on Yonges Island where he was the chairman of the board of directors. Throughout his life Mr. Brown spent time participating in and contributing to different projects and groups in the Charleston area that worked towards bettering the community such as the Humane Friendly Society Cemetery, Charleston Area Community Relations Committee, Charleston Business and Professional Men’s Association, and others. At the time of his death he was serving as the Community Relations Specialist for Charleston, SC. Mr. Brown died on 14 February 1988 and his service was held at St. Mark's Episcopal Church.
2.5 linear feet (6 archival boxes)
Language of Materials
J. Arthur Brown was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1914. After graduating from the Avery Institute in 1932, he continued his education at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, SC, graduating in 1937. While at SCSC, Brown met his future wife MaeDe Esperanza Myers (1918-2012), marrying in 1940. The couple had three daughters: MaeDe Joenelle Gordon, Minerva King, and Dr. Millicent Brown; and one son, Myles Gregory Brown. He fathered a second son, Albert Wayne Gourdine, who was raised in Greeleyville. Mr. Brown moved back to Charleston where he became a businessman working as a real estate and insurance broker. He became affiliated with the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Brown worked his way to becoming the president of the Charleston chapter of the NAACP in 1955. As president of the local chapter of the NAACP, Mr. Brown led a concerted effort to fight segregation in the public sphere and other issues in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Mr. Brown was also a member on the Voorhees College Board of Trustees, member of the Mu Alpha Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, and a member of the South Carolina Democratic Party. In the 1970’s Mr. Brown was a co-founder and office holder of the Committee on Better Racial Assurance (COBRA).
The J. Arthur Brown papers are divided into five series documenting his family, education, business affairs, and work in the Civil Rights Movement and civic affairs.
2. Biographical Materials and Affiliations
3. Real Estate and Business Finance Records
4. Business and Personal Date Books/Planners
5. Photographs and General Materials
Materials were donated by the children of J. Arthur and MaeDe Brown.
Accruals for this collection are ongoing.
Pre-existing finding aid edited by Aaron Spelbring, September 2015
Encoded by Aaron Spelbring, September 2015
- African American businesspeople -- South Carolina -- Charleston
- African American civil rights workers -- United States
- African Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century
- African Americans -- Civil rights -- South Carolina -- Charleston -- History -- 20th century
- Avery Normal Institute -- Alumni and alumnae
- Avery Normal Institute -- History
- Brown family
- Brown, J. Arthur, 1914-1988
- Brown, Millicent E.
- Civic leaders -- South Carolina -- Charleston
- Civil rights movements -- United States
- Committee on Better Racial Assurance
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Charleston Branch (Charleston, S.C.)
- Omega Psi Phi Fraternity
- Segregation -- South Carolina -- Charleston
- Segregation -- United States -- History
- Segregation in education -- South Carolina -- Charleston
- South Carolina State University
- Voorhees College -- History
- Inventory of the J. Arthur Brown papers, 1937 - 1988 AMN 1074
- Description rules
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note