Friends and family today are mourning former Georgia State Senate Minority Leader Robert Brown. He died Thursday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 61.
The Macon native served as a Democratic State Senator for 20 years. He left state office last June to run unsuccessfully for Mayor of Macon. Former State Representative and close friend Dubose Porter says Brown was an early civil rights pioneer after graduating from college.
“Back in the ‘70’s he was a graduate of Mercer, back in ’71 which is a time when racial issues in the South were very raw. He went to work with the Quakers in desegregation during the 70’s”
Following that Brown was elected to the Bibb County School Board. He won the District 26 Senate seat in 1991 during a special election. While in office, Brown helped create the HOPE Scholarship, and staunchly opposed rate increases for Georgia Power customers and state money for school voucher programs.
Former Macon City Council President and radio host Anita Ponder says Brown gave weekly legislative updates to her listeners, and didn’t care about being popular.
“If he felt that this was the best route, regardless of whatever his peers, even if he stood alone, he'd stand alone. I don’t think it was ever to be adversarial. I know it to be because he thought that was right.”
Dubose Porter says Brown cared deeply about his hometown, and was proud of his legislative work to save the historically black Douglass Theatre. He thought by running for Mayor he could create more economic opportunity to Macon.
“He thought he could do for Macon what Kasim Reed had done for Atlanta of bringing some national resources to his community and he wasn’t able to communicate that somehow, because for some reason they saw him differently than the real person that he was.”
Brown lost a 3-way primary race in July, never making it to the runoff. Porter says Brown was battling colon cancer and was recently diagnosed with a recurrence of the disease.