A longtime public figure and leader in the Midlands died Sunday.
Joe Ellis Brown, 84, worked for decades as a school administrator before serving more than 20 years in the South Carolina State House as a Representative from Richland County. Brown’s death was confirmed by Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist whose political career was helped started by Brown.
“He exemplified what it means to be a public servant,” Seawright said. “If you looked that up in Websters Dictionary, his picture would be on that page.”
Brown represented House District 73 from 1986-2006. He was a stalwart supporter of public education and took on the rising cost of health care in his committee.
Brown was a champion for Democrats and African-Americans in the S.C. State House, according to scafricanamerican.com. He served as chairman of the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee. From 1992-94, he served as chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus.
“He was a legend in the South Carolina Black Caucus,” Seawright said. “He always felt the need to put young people on his shoulders and represent and support the next generation.”
Prior to serving in the State House, Brown was the principal at Hopkins High School, starting in 1957. He remained junior high principal at Hopkins High School until 1985, when he retired and embarked on a political career.
He attended Allen University on a football scholarship, got his Masters Degree from S.C. State and did more post-graduate work at the University of South Carolina.
Brown was married to Dorothy Henderson, and they had children – Angela Gay, L’Tanya Gabriel, and the late Kathy Ann and Joe Ellis Brown, Jr.
At a glance
Joe Ellis Brown honors and achievements
- Richland Co., S.C. Educ. Assn., Richland Co. Comm. Center, Inc.
- Com. Chm., Richland Co. Assn. of School Admin.
- Member of S.C. & Natl. Assns. Secondary School Principals, SCEA-R, NEA-R, RCEA-R
- Past mem., Bd., Greater Cola. Comm. Relations Council & Area IV Manpower Planning Council
- Richland Co. Bd. of Assessment Control
- Com. for the Incorporation of the Hopkins Comm.
- Gov.’s Beautification Com.
- Richland Co. Comm. Dev. Citizens’ Adv. Council
- Phi Delta Kappa Frat.
- Natl. Beta Club
- Alpha Phi Alpha Frat.
- Townsmen Club
- Past Exalted Ruler, Leading Knight, Palmetto Elk’s Lodge No. 342
- Distinguished Alumnus, Allen Univ., 1988
- Eau Claire Rotary Club
- Deacon & Church Auditor, St. John Baptist Church
- Omicron Phi Chap., Omega Psi Phi Frat. Citizen of the Year, 1989
- Past Pres., ACTS, Riverside High School Natl. Alumni Assn., 1991-95
- Past Chm., Legis. Black Caucus, 1992-94
- Chm., Med., Mil., Public & Municipal Affairs Com.
- S.C. Pharmaceutical Assn. Distinguished Serv. Award, 1994
- Legislator of the Year, S.C. Home Care Assn., 1997
- S.C. State Troopers Coalition Legislator of the Year, 1997
- Clemson Univ., Operation 4H Pride, Man of the Year, 1997-98
- Town of Mayesville First Annual Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune’s Festival, Keynote Speaker, 1998
- Legislator of the Year, U.S. Youth Games, 1998-99
- Seven Day Adventist Church Comm. Serv. Humanitarian Award, 1998
- Clara Mohammed School Political Action Award, 1999
- Legislator of the Year, S.C. Assn. of Nurse Anesthetists, 2000
- Recipient of NAFEO (Natl. Assn. for Equal Opportunity in Higher Educ.) Distinguished Alumni Citation of the Year Award, Allen Univ., 2001
- Recipient of Hon. Ph.D. of Arts and Humanities, Allen Univ., 2001
- Chm., Human Servs. and Public Safety Com., Southern Legis. Conf., 2001
- Exec. Com., Southern Legis. Conf., 2001
- Longest ever serving Black Legislator in S.C. House of Representatives
- Prev. serv. in House Mar. 11, 1986-05.