Clemson Brown: Africana History In Motion

Clemson Brown Pan-Africanist
Clemson Brown

AFRICANGLOBE – 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.