Civil rights activist Flonzie Brown Wright was born in Farmhaven, Mississippi on August 12, 1942 to Little Pickett Dawson Brown and Frank Brown, Sr. Her family moved to Canton, Mississippi in 1947, and she attended Holy Child Jesus School and Canton public schools. Brown Wright enrolled at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi, and later moved to California, before returning to Mississippi in 1962.
After the assassination of civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, on June 12, 1963, his brother, Charles Evers, appointed Brown Wright as Canton’s NAACP branch manager. Brown Wright registered thousands of African Americans to vote and testified before a congressional subcommittee on enforcing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. After James Meredith was shot during the March Against Fear in 1966, Martin Luther King Jr. called on Brown Wright to arrange accommodations for three thousand marchers in Canton. In 1968, Brown Wright became the first African American woman to hold a position as elected commissioner in Mississippi. In this role, Brown Wright monitored elections, trained poll workers, supervised registrars, and sued the Elections Board for discriminating against black candidates and poll workers. Between 1969 and 1973, Brown Wright served as vice president of the Institute of Politics at Millsaps College and from 1974 to 1989, she worked for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 1994, Brown Wright published her bestselling book, Looking Back to Move Ahead. She also served as a student affairs scholar in residence at Miami University, and was the CEO of FBW & Associates, a market-consulting firm in Jackson.
In 2016, the Flonzie Brown Gooloe Courtroom in Canton City Hall was named in her honor. The same year, she received the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s ‘Director’s Community Leadership Award.’ Brown Wright served on the board of the Mississippi Humanities Council, and was a founding member of Women of Progress. She also assisted with the creation of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, which opened in 2017.
Brown Wright has two sons, Edward Goodloe Jr. and Lloyd Goodloe, and a daughter, Cynthia Goodloe Palmer.
Flonzie Brown Wright was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 13, 2017.