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Brown, John O. (1922-2007) | Collaborative Archive from the African Diaspora

Name: Brown, John O. (1922-2007)
Fuller Form: Brown, John Olllis Langford

Historical Note:

Dr. John O. Brown, M.D. was born in Colbert, Oklahoma to Edward D. Brown and Gala Hill of Texas.  He spearheaded much of the activism that was associated with the civil rights movement in Dade County.  His name is linked with Sit-ins, pickets, the Gibson vs. Board of Education suit and Miami’s role in the 1963 March on Washington.

Dr. Brown attended the University of Wisconsin - Madison and graduated in 1943. That same year, he married  Marie Faulkner in Nashville, TN. They had four children (three boys and one girl). He later attended Meharry Medical School (a historically black Medical College) in Nashville and graduated from there in 1950. He completed his post-graduate work in Ophthalmology at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. After completing his formal education Dr. Brown moved to Miami in 1955 and opened his Ophthalmology practice in Liberty City the following year.

During WWII he was an Officer in the U.S. Army and first lieutenant in the all black 92nd Infantry Division nicknamed the Buffalo Soldiers.  Dr. Brown was awarded a Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster for his heroic service in the Amo Po Valley and Apennines campaigns in Italy during the Second World War. The “Oak Leaf Cluster” indicates that a subsequent award was added to the initial decoration.

By the late 1950s he was head of the Miami Chapter of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE).  He led marches to integrate lunch counters and public beaches.  Many of these protests were patterned after the historic lunch counter sit-ins across the South.  Dr. Brown was quoted saying that Miami was Jim Crow from top to bottom in the late 1950s and 1960s (The Miami Herald, 02/26/1995).  One of his sons (John, Jr.) was among the black children who sued the Dade County Public School System (Gibson vs. Board of Education) to force desegregation of Public Schools (Edison High School).  The case was settled in 1963, the same year Dr. Brown participated in the March on Washington.  By then John, Jr. had graduated high school and gone away to Harvard University.

Dr. Brown was voted president- elect of the National Medical Association and took control as President in 1986.  He was a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and member of the regional board of the National Council of Christians and Jews and he was a Director at Capital Bank along with being a Charter member of the Community Race Relations Board (CRB).

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