Clemson Brown: Africana History In Motion

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As Malcolm X said: “We must know where we’ve been to know where we’re going” and "Of all the studies, history is most rewarding."


 [Black History]
 
In
1976, Clemson Brown, videographer and archivist, began his journey to
capture on film and videotape the struggles of African Americans to find
themselves and rewrite the pages of history from which they have been
omitted.  
 
As an ordained minister in the House of the Lord
Church, under the leadership of Rev. Herbert Daughtry, Minister Brown
was encouraged to record the struggles this historic church was involved
in.  
 
And record he did.  
 
For the next 35 years Minister Brown video recorded the driving forces in the African community, domestic and international.  
 
The
Slave Theatre on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, New York served as a
meeting place to hear commentary on events affecting the African
American community by Attorney Alton Maddox and Rev. Al Sharpton.  
 
The
travesty of injustice involving the disbarring of Maddox from
practicing law is well-documented and serves as a model for racial
oppression. "The Narration Notes for the Tapstudio Project" as Clemson
Brown calls his rich archives, covers this period and many more highly
controversial events not televised or written about in the so-called
“mainstream media”.  
 
Minister Brown’s Narrative Notes for the
Tapstudio Project describes in detail the injustice stories of victims
such as: the 10-year-old Black child, Clifford Glover, who was shot in
the back by a White police officer; a 15-year-old Black youth, Randolph
Events, shot in the head point blank by police officer Robert Torsney
merely for asking a question; the well-respected Black businessman
Arthur Miller, choked to death after a verbal confrontation with a
police officer; 76-year-old grandmother Eleanor Bumpers whose left hand
was blown off after officers raided her apartment and killed her while
trying to evict her; the murder of Yusef Hawkins in Bensonhurst, New
York by a White mob; and the highly-charged Tawana Brawley case. 
 
Rev.
Brown's Trans Atlantic Productions has also recorded thousands of hours
of footage covering lectures on African history, current issues and
events such as the murder of Amadou Diallo, who was shot 41 times by New
York Police Department officers and Patrick Dorismond, who was killed
execution-style. 
 
With camera and video in hand, Clemson Brown
also interviewed almost every Black scholar of note: Dr. Yosef Alfredo
Antonio Ben-Jochannan, scholar and Egyptologist, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima,
African history professor, and many others, to put together the missing
pages of the African Diaspora history.  
 
Who is Clemson Brown?  
 
Born
in Lancaster, South Carolina in 1939, Clemson Brown grew up in a
family-owned 350 acre working farm with numerous cousins, uncles and
nieces who worked this farm.  
 
The school the Brown children
attended was built by family members, and the children were
home-schooled by several Clemson aunts. Marcus Garvey’s “self
sufficiency” was in full force in this homestead.  
 
Interaction
with White people was rare, mainly a few times a year when selling
cotton on the open market. His mother birthed 11 children.  
 
After
Clemson Brown’s father passed away at the age of 36, his mother sent
him, at age 14, to live with his father’s sister. He entered Morris High
School in the Bronx and became a New Yorker -- activist and scholar of
African history and politics, Elombe Brath, and former Secretary of
State Colin Powell, graduated from this school a year before Clemson
Brown.  
 
Initially Clemson Brown had no scholarly ambitions;
after high school he obtained an office job. He was fired the first day
on the job and advised to find work using his hands.  
 
And that
he did. One day while working as a post office mail handler, Clemson
Brown happened to come across a book by John Oliver Killens entitled
“Then We Heard the Thunder”, about Blacks in military service during
World War II. From this book came his insatiable appetite to learn
everything he could about Black history. 
 
Now eager to quench
his thirst for Black history, Clemson Brown applied for admission to
City College through what was then the the newly-established Open
Admissions Program.  
 
Potential students were required to take
an English proficiency test. There were 25 questions on the test.
Clemson Brown answered all 25 questions wrong, but he would not be
deterred. The instructor told him that he didn’t belong there.  
 
He
argued that he had come to learn, and insisted this was the place for
him. The instructor agreed to undertake a rigorous remedial studies
schedule with Clemson Brown. To graduate on time, in his final semester,
he took 29 credits and graduated with a B+ average, which put him in
the top one-third percentile of his class. He majored in art, with an
African-American history minor.  
 
In 1960, Clemson Brown married Lady Viola and this union produced two children, Clemson R. and Herlinda Brown.  
 
An
incident that accelerated Clemson Brown’s entry into the civil rights
struggle occurred on a visit near his home town in 1957. He was
traveling with his cousin, Crawford, to see a young Barber Scotia
College student in Concord, North Carolina.  
 
The breaks on the
car the two were driving in were bad and they couldn’t stop as quickly
as needed. There car almost sideswiped a truck carrying an older White
man and several young White men.  
 
When Clemson Brown stepped
out of the car, he recalls being pelted with the N-word from every
direction. Some of the men started wrapping chains around their fists
while others wielded heavy pieces of wood, he recalls.  
 
In the
south, people of all races carry guns and Clemson Brown and Crawford
were no exception. “Shoot; shoot now and kill these motherfuckers,”
Clemson Brown recalls telling Crawford. 
 
The attackers backed
off. Leaving the car behind, Clemson Brown and Crawford fled into the
nearby college. Outside, a White mob soon gathered. 
 
A college
official told Clemson Brown and Crawford that they could not stay at the
school; they were endangering her students, the official claimed.  
 
"At
that very moment, the skies opened up and rain started pouring over the
hate mongers," Clemson Brown recalls. "With that, they dispersed and we
were able to flee to our car." 
 
There’s no doubt in Clemson
Brown's mind that without divine intervention he would have been lynched
that day. “After this incident, I became very militant – it engendered a
drive to fight racism and to see African people liberated from
oppression by Whites,” he says. 
 
It became his lifelong mission.  
 
Clemson
Brown is worried that the younger generation are not in touch with the
rich history that sustained Africans in the Diaspora. Where will this
generation go to see, touch and hear about the struggle of African
people to combat and overcome the yoke of racial oppression? 
 
Clemson
Brown has a room in his home where he stores the actual instruments
once used to oppress African peoples including the actual chains and
balls once secured around the ankles of enslaved Africans on
plantations. 
 
He's determined to create a museum that will also preserve his rich collection of film and videotapes. 
 
“Many
supporters have helped me along the way," Clemson Brown says. "For
brevity, I can only name a few. Reverend Herbert Daughtry, Attorney
Alton Maddox, Reverend Johnny Youngblood, Reverend Al Sharpton, Dr.
Leonard and Dr. Rosalind Jeffries. Today, I need your help to secure
this work and make it a vital part of our museum complex.”  
 
This
is a powerful, innovative approach to reach a generation of youth,
particularly African American youth, affected by past events which
occurred before many of them were born.  
 
As Malcolm X said: “We
must know where we’ve been to know where we’re going” and "Of all the
studies, history is most rewarding."  
 
For more information and to send contributions for the museum and archives program please call 718-859-4046 and visit
 www.tapvideo.com  to also purchase videotapes of historical events


"Speaking Truth To Empower."





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