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Thu, 07.01.1926

George L. Brown, Politician born

George L. Brown

*George Brown was born on this date in 1926.  He was a Black politician.  

George Leslie Brown grew up on a farm in Lawrence, Kansas.  He was a basketball, football, and track high school athlete before graduating from Lawrence Liberty Memorial High School in 1944. Brown graduated from the University of Kansas in 1950 with a B.S. in journalism. He also did graduate work at Harvard Business School, the University of Colorado, and the University of Denver.  

He was a writer and editor for The Denver Post and hosted his Denver radio talk show for fourteen years. He was the first Black editor to work for a major daily newspaper in the Rocky Mountain region. Brown served as the assistant executive director for Denver's Public Housing Program for four years and taught at the University of Colorado and the University of Denver. In 1956, Brown was elected to the Colorado State Senate. He served as a state senator for eighteen years and was re-elected to five consecutive four-year terms.  

In 1974, in the middle of his fifth Senate term, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Colorado, a position he held for four years. Brown and California's Mervyn Dymally became the first two Black lieutenant governors since Reconstruction and outside any southern state. In addition, Brown won the statewide primary election to get a seat on the gubernatorial democratic ticket, whereas Dymally was elected independently and separately.  

Brown's tenure was marred by controversy: in 1975, he claimed that in 1943, during his military training, he was in an airplane crash, and the Alabama farmer whose field he crashed into chained him up and branded him with a "K" for the Ku Klux Klan. The brand later turned out to be from his college fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi. Later, he said that the incident had happened to another cadet and apologized. Later in 1975, he was the subject of a grand jury investigation into travel expenses of around $3,600 he had billed the state. He said it was a clerical error, and no charges were filed.

In 1978, when Governor Richard Lamm was in Florida on holiday and Brown was acting as governor, he pardoned recently paroled former death row inmate Sylvester Lee Garrison because Brown felt Garrison never received a fair trial with an all-white jury and judge. When Lamm returned, he rescinded the pardon.  Brown found serving as lieutenant governor "very frustrating," He did not run for re-election in 1978. He was replaced on the ticket by Nancy E. Dick, and the two won the election.  Later in 1978, Lamm accused Brown of overspending his departmental budget by $10,000 and ordered the State Comptroller to withhold his final $2,083 paycheck. His supporters picketed Lamm and Dick's inauguration, and in 1980 he sued Lamm for $500,000 for the withheld pay. The government settled, sending him a cheque for $10,000.  

After his term as lieutenant governor had concluded, Brown never sought public office again. In 1979, Brown joined the Grumman Corporation as vice president for marketing and was later promoted to senior vice president in charge of the firm's regional offices, becoming the first Black corporate officer in a major U.S. aerospace company. He attended Harvard Business School's six-week Advanced Management Program in 1980 and worked as Grumman's chief lobbyist in Washington, D.C. until he left Grumman in 1990. That year, Brown joined the Washington, D.C. law firm of Whitten & Diamond. In March 1994, he was named director for Prudential Securities and managed its Washington public finance office. He was a banker for Greenwich Partners from 1997 to 2000.  

Brown was active on various boards and was a consultant and adviser for various organizations and companies. He received numerous awards and honors for his work. Brown and his wife, Modeen, have one son: Steven, and four daughters: Gail, Cynthia, Kim, and Laura.  George Brown died on March 31, 2006, of cancer.  Quote from Brown "Life is too short to be unhappy in business. If business were not a part of the joy of living, we might almost say that we have no right to live because it is a pretty poor man who cannot get into the line for which he is fitted."  

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