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November 3rd, 2012
06:40 AM ET

Civil rights icon fighting for change one registered voter at a time

This is the last in an occasional series on issues of race, identity and politics ahead of Election Day, including a look at the optics of politics, a white Southern Democrat fighting for survival and how parallels to the past haunt the age of Obama.

By Jen Christensen, CNN

San Francisco (CNN) - To call the Rev. Amos C. Brown a veteran of the civil rights movement is an understatement.

He was just 15 when he met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in San Francisco after being driven cross-country by Mississippi activist Medgar Evers.

He was one of eight students handpicked to take the only college class King ever taught. He and King were arrested during a lunch-counter sit-in at a nearby downtown Atlanta department store. He also was one of the famed Freedom Riders who blazed a trail through the Deep South.

At 71 and slowed by a stroke, Brown could be satisfied as senior pastor to his 3,000-strong flock at Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, the Bay Area's version of King's Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Instead, he has been working behind the scenes - praying with President Barack Obama before his second debate - as well as working on the front lines, trying to register as many African-Americans as possible ahead of Tuesday's election.

His goal: to strengthen his community's political voice, fight against what he perceives as efforts to diminish that voice and keep the country's first black president in office.

"My mentor (Evers) died trying to get people the vote – a right that was theirs. We've got to remember this," he says. "People must know how many others were sacrificed trying to get people this right."

Walking 'the line'

It's a warm mid-October day when Brown and two volunteers from his church head out to the San Francisco County Jail and a Fillmore District barbershop to make personal appeals to register voters.

First stop is the jail, where Brown gingerly makes his way up the building's steps and is met by Susan Fahey, a representative from the sheriff's office.

She reminds the group not to bring in cell phones or purses. "And watch your black pens," she says. "They will try to take them."

Brown's group is here as part of "This Is My Vote," a national project of major African-American Baptist conventions and the NAACP, where he's on the board of directors.

The NAACP started the campaign after several states passed laws the organization fears will disenfranchise millions of American voters, including the elimination of Sunday voting, voter ID requirements and bans on allowing ex-felons to vote.

The Rev. Amos Brown’s office is crowded with awards and multiple boxes of research.

After going through extensive security, Brown's small group meets with Nick Gregoratos, a lawyer whose passion is registering prisoners. Together, under close supervision, they enter "the line," the main hallway of this 1960s-era facility.

Narrow cells are on each side. As they enter, dozens of young men in orange sweat suits, many of whom had been sleeping, get up and move to the front of their cells. They stand, curious, watching closely from behind thick gray bars.

Brown goes up to each cell and talks with the men. Many recognize and greet him warmly.

"Dr. Brown," they call out. "Over here, come over here."

When they get to the first cell, Gregoratos shouts out the rules, which are complicated for those doing time in California. But many of the jail's prisoners are eligible to vote.

"Now remember, you can't use the jail as your address. Use where you last lived or if you were homeless, list the closest intersection," he tells an inmate filling out a form.

He explains how the inmates will get an opportunity to vote on their interests.

"Three ballot issues you'll care about: three strikes, the death penalty and affordable housing," Gregoratos says.

California Proposition 36 would revise the three strikes law to impose a life sentence only if the third crime is "serious or violent." It would also allow lifers to be re-sentenced if their third crime wasn't "serious or violent." State Proposition 34 would eliminate the death penalty as a sentencing option. San Francisco's Proposition C would create a trust fund to create more affordable housing in one of the most expensive markets in the country.

"See," Brown says, "it is in your best interest to vote."

Mae B. Winn, one of Brown's volunteers, talks with many of the men. On these visits she finds herself preaching the Gospel more than talking about registering people to vote.

"But I always find a way to bring it back around," Winn says. "It's that important."

She closes a conversation with a young man by saying, "You may not have much, but you do have a right to vote in this country that can't be taken away."

As Brown watches one young man with a small tattoo on his cheek fill out a registration form, another prisoner calls out to him. He explains that his grandfather is a member of Brown's congregation.

"We knew each other back in Jackson," Brown says to one of his volunteers, referring to the man's grandfather. "This is much too small a world."

After their chat, the man fills out a voter registration form. Brown then steps back and quietly surveys all the men crowded up against the bars.

"There is so much wasted talent here," he says.

Brown and his volunteers manage to register about 30 men, some for the first time. "No one ever asked me before," inmate Sherard King says. "I'm glad they took the time."

'Katy Perry … doesn't do it'

The 2008 election marked the first time young black voters had the highest voter turnout rate among racial groups, according to census figures. Some 55.4% of registered African-Americans age 18-24 voted. For those ages 25-44, the figure was higher: 64% .

In comparison, 49.4% of registered whites age 18-24 and 62.1% of those age 25-44 voted. For Asians, 40.6% between 18 and 24 voted; for Hispanics, that number was 38.8%.

Brown wants to build on those figures. From memory, he rattles off the numbers of unregistered voting-age African-Americans the way some men rattle off baseball players' batting averages: "495,658 in Georgia; in New York, 395,170; in Florida, 406,806; and in my own state, here in California, 208,235," Brown says, quoting figures generated by the NAACP's analysis of census figures.

The Rev. Amos Brown is known for his ability to bring people to their feet with his dynamic preaching. Brown and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shared the same speech teacher.

Though Brown has personal tragedy to remind him how crucial the vote is for his community - Evers was assassinated in 1963, five years before King's death - he knows that young people today don't have the same experiences shaping their perspective.

So he tries to reach out to them personally. He and some of his church's volunteers make regular rounds to register and encourage the community to vote.

Emory University political science professor Andra Gillespie, who wrote her dissertation on the effectiveness of voter registration and mobilization drives, says personal appeals such as this are key.

"Having Katy Perry record a robocall, as one campaign did, doesn't do it," she says. "Studies show that having someone who is a friend make a personal appeal – or even someone pretending to be your friend or who comes across as nice – that is what turns people out to vote."

Photo ops and promises

As Brown leaves the jail, a young woman stops him on the building's steps. "You preached at my grandfather's funeral service last year," the woman says as she shakes his hand and smiles.

She asks for his help. Brown listens closely as she describes a family problem. He promises to follow up. Before she leaves, he reminds her to vote, and she agrees.

A sheriff's officer overhears the exchange and notes, "Dr. Brown truly is the conscious of our community."

Brown walks down one more step before another young woman stops him. This one asks to have her photo taken with him. As her friend pulls out an iPhone, Brown reminds them about the election. They promise to vote and snap a picture.

As he heads to the parking lot, Brown is running a few minutes behind for his next appointment.

"It is a small burden of service," he says, preoccupied with his mission. "I hope people realize they can be heard if they vote."

Wherever Brown goes, it is like this. Another young man stops him in the parking lot. He lets Brown know he's been convicted of a crime. He's upset. He complains his jury was not diverse.

"Jurors are picked from the voter rolls," Brown reminds him. "If people want a jury of their peers, they're going to need to vote."

Brown promises to come to the young man's sentencing.

Praying with the president

A year before his death, King spoke of "the fierce urgency of now."

"In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late," King said. "We must move past indecision to action."

Brown says he was reminded of those words when he and another civil rights veteran, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, were asked to provide spiritual counsel on a conference call with the president before his second debate with Republican nominee Mitt Romney last month.

"We prayed with the president and gave him encouragement," Brown says, not wanting to give away too many details.

"I did tell him to be brave, to be bold."

Bold and brave action has marked Brown's life, and the neighborhood around his church is filled with concrete reminders of his efforts to empower a community.

Outside Third Baptist, he points to where the church runs its soup kitchen. In the last few years, its line has snaked around the block. Down the street, he points to the low-income and senior housing his church built. The structure is at capacity. Then there's the mission his church established to help nearly 3,000 refugees. There's also the AIDS outreach the church started long before people knew what to call the disease.

There are also signs here that the broader community is grateful for the work. The city has put up banners to honor the church's 160th anniversary. There is a colorful mural depicting African-American leaders, Brown's face among the images.

Not too far away sits the City Hall complex. It's where Mayor Willie Brown made the pastor a city supervisor in 1996, and it's where the mission he's on today started more than 50 years ago.

"That's where I first met Dr. King," Brown says. "Medgar Evers drove me across the country in his '55 Olds to an NAACP meeting. I was a youth leader representing Mississippi back then. That's where this all started back in 1956."

He worked with Evers, the NAACP field secretary for their home state of Mississippi, on a secret voter registration drive. They drove all over the state. The work was so dangerous they often disguised themselves as sharecroppers so they wouldn't be noticed.

Brown was just 15, he says, when he first got into the civil rights movement. Since then, he has spent a lifetime trying to create a more just world. This passion put Brown on a first-name basis with almost everyone mentioned in civil rights history books - from King, Lowery and Evers to Rosa Parks and Julian Bond.

Brown was handpicked to take King's class at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Soon after, he and King were arrested together when they staged a lunch counter sit-in at Rich's department store with some of Brown's fellow students and other civil rights activists. In 1961, Brown became one of the famed Freedom Riders, an interracial group of college students who rode interstate buses through the segregated South and faced attacks and imprisonment.

With a recommendation from King, Brown studied at the civil rights leader's alma mater, Crozer Theological Seminary near Philadelphia. In 1976 he landed one of the most coveted preaching jobs in the country, taking over as senior pastor at Third Baptist. The congregation is considered so politically important that former President Bill Clinton spoke at the church's 150th anniversary.

Photos of Brown with Clinton, President Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela blanket the walls of his church office.

While he is a player in the political landscape, the public seems to better accept him as a social critic than as a part of the political establishment.

He lost when he ran for a seat on a community college board. He lost when he ran for the San Francisco school board in 1992. He failed to win re-election as a city supervisor in 2000 - after which one political observer noted: "He's a Mr. Outsider, not a Mr. Insider."

The next year, he asked at a post-9/11 memorial service, "America, is there anything you did to set up this climate?" - prompting Sen. Dianne Feinstein and then-Gov. Gray Davis to walk out, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2008, some black pastors criticized him for opposing Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. In 2009, he raised eyebrows when he invited his former seminary classmate and President Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago, to speak at Third Baptist.

Even as a youth, the establishment didn't always like what he had to say.

When Brown was in high school he nearly got expelled after giving an interview to the Cleveland Plain Dealer that was critical of segregated schools. He said his school was separate but not equal to the schools around him and his teachers were underpaid. When the senior class voted him its president, his school principal declared the election invalid. When he was elected a second time, his principal abolished the student council.

Now one of his biggest political challenges is to make sure his community stays engaged with this year's election. He's determined to make sure individuals, rather than super PACs and corporations, have a real voice in this election.

'One tough customer'

From the jail, Brown heads to the Chicago Barber Shop II, a two-story business where the minister seems to know everyone.

"Do I have a potential voter here?" he asks as he sits in barber Robert Harlin's chair on the second floor.

The Rev. Amos Brown talks politics with his barber and friend, Robert Harlin.

As Harlin gives him a trim, he tells Brown that he always votes.

"I want to give our president four more years," Harlin says. "He needs more time. Isn't that what we should do, Bean Pole?" Harlin calls out, using a waiting customer's nickname.

"Absolutely," says the man, looking up from what he's texting.

Trimmed-up, Brown makes his way down to the first floor of the shop. An 83-year-old customer notices the minister and explains who Brown is to a young barber, who confesses he has never voted.

"I've never missed a vote," the older gentleman says in admonishment. "You really need to make it a habit."

"Dr. Brown, you have a customer here," the man calls out.

Brown is preoccupied with the barber working the next chair over, who gives Brown a dozen excuses. He's on the road too much, he says. He doesn't have time. He doesn't follow the issues.

"He's one tough customer," Brown says to a volunteer who waits nearby. After 10 minutes of quiet and calm conversation between the two, Brown tells the barber, "You really need to think about this."

The barber doesn't budge, but Brown has faced death over such things. A barber's resistance doesn't deter him; instead, it makes him even more determined.

"Again, just think about it," Brown says, as he gets ready to leave. The barber finally agrees. He will at least do that.

Brown puts him on his list to visit later. He is determined to create King's "beloved community" on this Earth, even if he does it just one voter - or barber - at a time.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Black in America • Discrimination • History • Politics • Race • Social justice • Where we live
soundoff (114 Responses)
  1. 2012

    REVENGE, yep, this is the type of gutter politics Obama's been running all campaign!!!

    November 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Heck, BoBo hasn't stopped campaigning since January of 2008!

      Scott

      November 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
      • Ben

        And what has Romney been doing the last six years?

        Isn't there a saying about not criticizing someone for a speck in their eye until you remove the board from yours?

        November 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joe

    After four years the president has 'failed' to dig this country out of a chasm that took decades to dig. So lets fire him, replace him with Romney and his Bush era advisers and hope his snake skin oil solutions will work. Brilliant!

    November 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Joe,
      The pit that our economy has slid into was started in January 2007, when my fellow dumbocraps took over both houses of congress. Take a look at the DOW and the unemployment rates from 2000 on. They did not start to tank until nine months AFTER the dumbocraps took over congress. Therefore, the blame lies squarely upon the dumbocrap congress.

      Also. The president, any president cannot pass any bill into law on his own. It takes the congress to first pass that law. There for blame my (your?) party, the dumbocraps.

      Scott

      November 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
      • Pete

        @Scott,and who created these wars,Medicare Part D,tax cuts all unfunded,it was your racist republicans .Sending Colin Powell to the UN to lie about WMDs and start a profittable war for Bush and Cheneys Halliburton,quit your crap, you delushional republicans just slay me with you ignorent acts of patriotism but only 30% of both house republicans have ever served militarily,check that out,facts do hurt dont they Scott!!

        November 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
      • wjmccartan

        So to do the math, your saying that in 9 months democrats brought the country down, the other 7 years and 3 months of the government at the time had nothing to do with it. Sorry but that's bad math.

        November 3, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. spud

    unless you wherearound for the civil rights movement you have no idea how hard fought these rights where. If you want to see them all evaporate then vote for romney. Not only civil rights but womans rights and union rights. Young people don't have any idea what it was like to work for nothing and have no say in your health care or job safety . Women today take birth control for granted. talk to some of the older people that went through this time in history . It is relevent. America is the land for everyone not a few. Wise up we don;t want a two class system. Forward.

    November 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • countryproud

      We already have a two class Country or system as you call it. There are the Minorities, always only blacks, and the rest of the Country. Supposedly, the Civil Rights movement was to make everyone equal, but it never will because there will always be groups and some type organizations asking for more, more more and the cries of discrimination mostly when there isn't any and just to use the race card for an advantage. I believ if there cannot be an America with only American Citizens in it, then we do not have a Nation of equals, only those that do and those that take from them.

      November 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
      • Anita

        Did you graduate from high school? Every ethnic group is considered a minority if they are not part of the majority group. And I hate to break it to you that the two classes in this country are the HAVES and HAVE NOTS. The Republican party is about money,and poor whites vote for the republican party every four years. I'm still trying to figure out what they are voting for. Because they are still poor after the election.

        November 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • sharky

      Yes ok because the Civil Rights act will suddenly be repealed, and destroyed if Romney wins. SURE SURE. By the way did you even know it was the Republicans that strongly supported the Civil Rights Act compared to the Democrats.

      November 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Proud Puerto Rican & Italian American Women

    Nate,

    You are exactly what is wrong with this country and unfortunately you continue to breed ignorant hate filled little mongrels just like you.

    My family is made up of a wonderfully diversified group of multiple races starting with me being hispanic and Italian, my husband is black and white, and my children are half black and 1/4 hispanic & italian.

    My husband and I are both enlisted Soldiers in the Army and have managed to not only obtain our Bachelors Degrees but our masters as well (while deploying twice and raising 2 kids), my kids are both honor roll students and our 14 year old just made a national league baseball team (and already as college scouts looking at him).

    Both my husbands parents and mine have at least a masters degree or higher and my hubands brother is a lawyer and his sister has a PHD.

    So before you start stereotyping every single person of color into one generalized statement, how about you get out of your trailer, take the confederate flsg down (that war was lost a long time ago), drive into a city, and see how much times have changed?

    November 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      you went in the military to get your education paid for
      should have been in when i was there and they threw things at you during vietnam
      you get no medal from me

      November 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
      • Anita

        So what if they received money for their education by going in the Military. Rich politicians created these wars as their children stayed at home or in college. Middle class and poor kids fight on the front line. So, great, finally someone gets something out of it. Rich kids don't enlist in the military and they don't go to war.

        November 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ronnie, from New Orleans,LA

      @Steve, but she was not, I was not born during that era either, I am proud of her family and I am a Veteran(Desert Storm), and she gets more than a medal from me, she and her husband get my thank you!!!

      November 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      @proud American women,my hats off to you,you've done more than these so called arm chair generals,the republicans in both houses of those only 30% have ever served thanks again!!

      November 3, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kalowg

    The mind of the African American has been so polluted that only they would not support Bush during his presidency and still support Obama for a 2nd term despite how their communities have suffered most under his administration.

    Not because Obama is black, but because he is a Democrat. WAKE UP!

    November 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mcshannon

    Certainly it’s evident to everyone that any suggestion to improve a constipated bureaucracy by President Obama is unacceptable to Republicans. Yet it’s time to sit down on elected thrones with a winced face of determination and get past this obstruction and flush it where it belongs. Vote a straight Democratic ticket. Let’s get Congress moving again!

    November 3, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Yes, everyone vote on National Flush The Toilet Day, November 6, 2012 and send that floater in the White House, along with its Senate majority, swirling down the porcelain bowl.

      Scott

      November 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • sharky

      Look at North Korea for what a straight ticket Democrat would be.

      November 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Comen

    Registering people to vote, and encouraging them to vote – is awesome and good. Not protecting their vote through rejecting protections including voter qualification verification and ensure one vote per person is wrong and bad.

    It is also a shame this gentleman associates with the racist organization, NAACP. Some day, perhaps everyone (including NAACP) will believe in, advance and promote MLK's message against racism

    November 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Comen

    Registering people to vote, and encouraging them to vote – is awesome and good. Not protecting their vote through rejecting protections including voter qualification verification and ensure one vote per person is wrong and bad.

    It is also a shame this gentleman associates with the racist organization, NAACP. Some day, perhaps everyone (including NAACP) will believe in, advance and promote MLK's message again racism.

    November 3, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Nah

    This would have been an excellent troll post if it weren't for your name.

    November 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. zaglossus

    Who cares? These civil rights icons had their moment in history some 40 to 60 years ago. Now they are just aged race hustlers.

    November 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jimmy

    voter apathy is the very least of the AA community's problems. Once again blacks looking for rescue from the government instead of fixing their OWN problems.

    November 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. GoboRiceWar

    Oh and I guess Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan sure have black and other minority concerns as priority #1 Get real regardless both are liars, as an overall generalization, republicans are stark white, backward, evangelical rednecks who are out of touch with reality or rather with reality outside of their racial group. Democrats are liberal whites, minorities who hate most whites, a bunch of no rules dancing around the fire naked, activists. In this situation i'd have to vote for the lesser of 2 evils, if I have to dance around the fire naked atleast I can enjoy it with a side of pot and a lot less old white bible thumpers killing my buzz, that said i'm voting for Obama, mainly off of principal to spit in the eye of this unfortunately still racist country. It seems like this country is nothing but a bunch of dick cheney lookalikes. Regardless YOUR president will be black once again. Celebrate in 2016.

    November 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CNNTom

    "trying to register as many African-Americans as possible ahead of Tuesday's election"

    Because he knows black people will vote for a black candidate regardless of his policies. Really, he's trying to keep this president in office because of his skin color regardless of how bad is economic policies are and Romney probably won't be any better.
    In my opinion, Americans deserve every bit of pain they have coming in the future because of their poor choices at the polls. Perhaps only then they will learn, you can't vote yourself free stuff.

    November 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. rexdogcanadien

    Biologically there is one human race. Racism is a social invention its purpose is to degrade humanity. No matter the hue of one's outer appearance each of us is made up of thirty-two chromosomes. Has any of you ever hear of a hybrid man/woman? We are all snowflakes – Uniquely one of a kind.

    November 3, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      rex: "Biologically there is one human race."

      Ah, yes, because there are no biological or genetic factors that go into your appearance. That's why white couples have black children and black couples have Asian children.

      November 3, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Barbara

    Glad you're out there covering this, Jen...and provoking us to have stimulating conversation on this important topic!
    Thank you!

    November 3, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Dedrick marshall

    Happy to see the Rev voting for a president who will protect voting rights. I know this is something he believes deeply in and I am happy he found a candidate that represents his views.

    November 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Dan

    What exactly has Obama done for black Americans anyway? He's not even a traditional Black American anyway.

    November 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just asking...

      what's a traditional black amercian look like?

      November 3, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
      • jimmy

        A mugshot

        November 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
      • Al

        Well he sure isnt half with, with big floppy ears

        November 3, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buzz Offloser

      That is just awesome!!!!!

      November 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dorisgetsit

      He's not even black. He has more white DNA in him than black.

      November 3, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
      • Al

        Hes not even african, jokes on the black population............

        November 3, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Bert Bigdongler

    Because we all know that asking someone to show ID before voting is clearly racist! Just like having to show ID before boarding a plane (or attending an Obama rally) is clearly racist!!!

    November 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just asking...

      As long as it's someone else's ox being gored, no problem right? If you live long enough, you just may find yourself in a situation where this issue could affect you...

      November 3, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • brian

      It was actually done, they were called Jim crow laws. Basically since they could not defeat them due to it just being unjust, they instead found unrelated bureaucratic issues to use instead. The more complex you make things, the more the votes skew towards the upper class white male majority.

      You can even find quotes where various republicans admit this is a real strategy, and the fact such laws are all being put in place to solve this issue of fraud which basically is not big enough to even be measurable.

      I am sure there is corruption on both sides, but it is far larger crime to have an American who wants to vote to find they are unable since they need to take a day off work, pay $25, and half the day at the DMV. Sure it's not a big deal to someone who drives, but there are a lot of very poor people ( or people in rest homes ) where such makes it much harder to vote than it should be.

      November 3, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Ed

    Actually, Billy Graham did more for de-segregation.

    Graham joined the civil rights movement and went against the solidified racism. He insisted on taking down the ropes in the pews that seperated blacks from whites. Billy Graham even posted the minister Marin Luther King's bail to get him released from Birmingham jail in 1963 during the civil rights protests.

    Billy Graham also supported obama for 2008. Not anymore. He found out the truth about obama being a liar, and a cheater, and a non-christian racist. Obama is a racist, and he attacks everyone and everything and is not a uniter, or even legally president.

    Billy Graham is proudly voting for the same candidate as me, Mitt Romney 2012.

    Mitt Romney is a dedicated, christian man, who is a leader, and a REAL ceo, not a fake ceo like cheney/bush.

    November 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • LisaS

      Please get your facts correct before posting.. You are too funny and very wrong about Mitt Romney. A Christian who is the word flip flops or just plain out lies...Ed you got jokes....LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!

      November 3, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      @Ed,Mormonism is a cult not religion.Ask how he rails against single mothers with excommunication,interracial marriages,gays, and just started within years of acceping blacks as a race..He is against any abortion and his pandering will get Romney eventually in trouble.He's also against any contraceptive devises as well,why to you think Mormon famililies have large numbers of kids,the more to be praised by John Smith their supreme one..Read up on how he polls in states he's been in Michigan,Massachusetts and New York ,they all know him that's why the president is ahead in those states by double digits,they know something we don't !!

      November 3, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  20. A

    This election is not about civil rights, that has been passed into law, and I for one like seeing blacks and whites work for a good cause. No this election is about if blacks and whites who go out and earn their way in life can continue to sustain the spending ways of this administration. I see today that even though President Lincoln freed the slaves, Mr. Obama and Joe Biden are all to happy putting chains on todays slaves, and they are not all black, they have managed to collect white, latin, and just about any race that will sell their soul to collect tax payer funded programs. Yes slavery is well and good in the halls in Washington look around and see as the slaves are paraded around to speak well of Mr. Obama. If you believe in slavery then your vote is for Mr. Obama, if you believe in independence then you can't honestly vote for Mr. Obama for you can't have it both ways with the slave master.

    November 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Marjorie

    Would it be "RACISM" if he encouraged a vote for Romney. Was it "RACISM" when African Americans voted for Clinton, Bush, McCain etc?

    November 3, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Hmmmmmmmmmm

      If he encouraged voting for Romney, simply because he is white, then yes. Did those black voters vote for the white presidents simply because they were white? If so, then yes, it was racism.

      Why is it so hard to understand. If you make decisions based upon the color of one's skin, then it is racism. Doesn't matter if it is black/black,white/white,black/white,white/black.

      November 3, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  22. IndianaGreg

    All while invoking the name (and, let's face it, trading on the name) of a great man who once said that he has a dream that one day his children would "live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

    November 3, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  23. lfdcaptain

    His goal: to strengthen his community's political voice, fight against what he perceives as efforts to diminish that voice and "KEEP THE COUNTRY"S FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT IN OFFICE".

    What a great reason to vote! Never mind what he's done to our country, or what he hasn't done for the African American community... let's just keep the country's first black president in office.

    Who's the racist?

    November 3, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • brian

      not him. However citing reverse discrimination, with a story of one of the people who faced real discrimination along with Dr. King and Evers, who has been fighting to get his community from not voting to actually voting, well that just raises the topic about what your preconceptions are.

      Working to include people, who should be voting is good for everyone. Frankly people who don't vote, don't deserve anything this country has to offer. And if he ran into you, he'd surely ask you if you voted.

      He is working in his community (for which he is the minister) which happens to be black, which still is dealing with a lot of garbage from ridiculous laws which target them far more than other communities. And he is working for Dr. Kings dream, where all of us can sit at the same table of brotherhood, which benefits everyone in the "UNITED" States of America.

      November 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Keishon Thomas

    Great article. I cannot imagine facing what he has faced and still being that determined. Bravo for Brown!

    November 3, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Johnson

      Sounds like Rev. Brown knows what happened after Reconstruction and fears it's going to happen again in a different form. Way to go, Rev. Brown–get the voters to the polls.

      November 3, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  25. jimm1bobb

    Well, Hmmm, it offers balance to those many white folks here in the South who won't vote for Obama simply because he's black (I'm white, BTW).

    November 3, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Hmmmmmmmmmm

      Well that's well and good Jimm1bobb, but where is the story about the white pastor rallying churchgoers against Obama because he is black? You know darn good and well, if that story were to be posted, there would be riots and lawsuits involving Jesse Jackson and other folks who get paid to be racist windbags. Amazingly, it is okay for blacks to post racial bias and hatred, but if a white does it, all hell breaks loose.

      November 3, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • sie

      always lpaying the race card. sounds like you are the one with the problem.

      November 3, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
      • Hmmmmmmmmmm

        I'm not the one with the race problem. I am the one watching the debates and understanding the issues BEFORE I vote on Tuesday. In stark contrast to those who are simply voting for Obama because he is black, and NOT voting for Romney because he is white.

        If Rev. Brown had mentioned a single issue as to why he supported Obama and not Romney, I wouldn't have take much notice. Instead he simply said "keeping the nations first black president in office". It's all about the skin color for Rev. Brown, and that is wrong.

        November 3, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
      • brian

        Well he supports him because he shares some values – ie the President actually listens to his advice. It's not race, it's Dr. Kings values which are about ENDING racisim and true equality.

        The fact that he was a minister who helped him spiritually prepare for the 2nd debate should indicate he is has a deeper understanding of those issues than you do. I would be surprised if for example, Romney's mormon community did not have comparable preachers who support Romney because Romney represents what they teach in the Mormon sunday school.

        November 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • EJ

      Those who are attempting to label blacks as racist because they are voting for a black candidate are actually proving themselves to be the racist because they are implying blacks should vote for someone other than a black simply because of his or her skin color – in this case, a white man. They should ask themselves why would blacks vote for a candidate of a party that is attempting to discriminate against them using voter suppression. It would be like voting for a candidate who promises to enslave you. No one would do it – not even those who are attempting to label blacks as racist for not voting for a white candidate.

      November 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
      • Richard Shelton

        . Only a black man can represent another black man? Only a black man can support the interests of another black? Yes, you are definitely a racist. No new ideas here. Go back to any deep south candidate running for office before the civil rights movement, and your words will be coming out of their mouth.

        November 4, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
      • EJ

        @Richard Shelton...LOL, can a black man only represent a black man....would it not be more appropreaite for you to ask the question, can only a white man repreaent the country – because until now, thats how it has been. I think the real problem with those who see this as blacks voting for a black candidate because he is black thinks that becauae that is how they vote. Calm down, blacks will vote for a white again as they have for years because the next democratic candidate for president will likely be white.....

        November 4, 2012 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |