Type. Inspired. Authentic. These are some of the words used by those who knew Jesse Brown Jr., minister, activist and leader of the NAACP in the Colorado Springs community.
Brown, 79, died on September 27, according to public records. He has been an icon for decades within the Colorado Springs religious community as well as a pillar of support for civil rights and housing activism in the city, said NAACP State President , Rosemary Lytle.
“He would describe the life of faith as a blossoming green tree,” Lytle said. “And if it’s a tree, then a green, blossoming tree has fallen, and that will leave a void in the community.”
Brown, originally from Florida, is a graduate of the music education program at Black Florida A&M University and the Howard School of Divinity in Washington DC, according to his LinkedIn account.
While in Colorado, Brown reached out to Mike Edmonds, senior vice president and chief of staff at Colorado College, to offer his support, a service he often set out to provide to schools and organizations across the city.
“I worked with Pastor Brown to foster community in Colorado Springs,” Edmonds said. “I truly had the highest level of respect for him as a mentor and a man of great integrity.”
Brown ministered at Payne Chapel’s African Methodist Episcopal Church for nearly 20 years while in Colorado, The Gazette previously reported. When Brown died, he was an active minister of Christ Temple Community Church, where he preached, sang and taught.
“He was so great at empowering the next generation,” Lytle said. “The best thing we can do is continue his work. “
Much of Brown’s job was to advocate for and establish affordable housing in Colorado Springs. His vision focused on providing affordable housing that was not relegated to one location in the city and strove to serve mixed incomes, Lytle said.
Brown ran for city council but was not elected. His attempt to raise awareness of the need for diversity in municipal government, Lytle said.
In 2017, Brown served as president of the Colorado Springs NAACP branch until early 2021. He was named a “living legend” during his time with the organization.
Brown’s legacy extends beyond his public roles. For those who knew about his family life, he was “loving and caring,” said Delia Armstrong Busby, chair of the Colorado Springs Human Relations Commission.
Brown’s wife June Christine Brown died two months before her death, Lytle said.
“They were inseparable in life,” Lytle said.
June suffered from asthma and Brown often drove her to Denver for weekly appointments, Busby said.
“He thought it was important to be the best human being possible,” Busby said. “He went through it. “
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