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The Honorable George L. Brown

The Honorable George Leslie Brown was born on July 1, 1926, in Lawrence, Kansas. Growing up on a farm in Kansas, Brown was a star athlete in basketball, football and track before graduating from Lawrence Liberty Memorial High School in 1944. During World War II, he served as a Tuskegee Airman.

Brown graduated from the University of Kansas in 1950 with a B.S. in journalism. He also did graduate work at Harvard Business School, the University of Colorado and the University of Denver. For fourteen years, he worked as a writer and editor for The Denver Post and hosted his own Denver radio talk show. He was the first African American editor to work for a major daily newspaper in the Rocky Mountains. Brown served as the assistant executive director for Denver’s Public Housing Program for four years and taught at the University of Colorado and the University of Denver.

In 1955, Brown made history when he was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives. He served as a state senator for eighteen years, and was reelected to five consecutive four-year terms. Then, in 1974, in the middle of his fifth Senate term, he was elected lieutenant governor, a position he held for four years. He was the nation’s first Black lieutenant governor.

In 1979, Brown joined the Grumman Corporation as vice president for marketing and was later promoted to senior vice president in charge of the firm’s regional offices, becoming the first African American corporate officer in a major U.S. aerospace company. He completed Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program in 1980 and worked as Grumman’s chief lobbyist in Washington, D.C., until he left Grunman in 1990. That year, Brown joined the Washington, D.C. law firm of Whitten & Diamond. In March 1994, he was named director for Prudential Securities and managed its Washington public finance office. He was a banker for Greenwich Partners from 1997 to 2000.

Brown was active on various boards and serves as a consultant and adviser for various organizations and companies. He received numerous awards and honors for his work. Brown was married to Modeen Brown. They had four daughters: Gail, Cindy, Kim and Laura.

Brown passed away on March 31, 2006 at age 79.

Accession Number

A2003.018

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/23/2003

Last Name

Brown

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Leslie

Organizations
Schools

Lincoln Elementary School

McAlister Grade School

Lawrence High School

University of Kansas

Harvard Business School

First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Lawrence

HM ID

BRO09

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Kansas

Favorite Quote

If I Didn't Know Better, I'd Think I Had Right Good Sense.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/1/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Potatoes (Mashed)

Death Date

3/31/2006

Short Description

Lieutenant governor and state representative The Honorable George L. Brown (1926 - 2006 ) was the first African American Colorado State Representative, State Senator and Lieutenant Governor.

Employment

United States Army Air Corps

Denver Post

Denver Housing Authority

University of Colorado

University of Denver

Colorado General Assembly

State of Colorado

Grumman Corporation

Whitten & Diamond

Prudential Securities

Greenwich Partners

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93929">Tape: 1 Slating of George L. Brown's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93930">Tape: 1 George L. Brown lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93931">Tape: 1 George L. Brown describes his mother's personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93932">Tape: 1 George L. Brown describes his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93933">Tape: 1 George L. Brown describes his father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93934">Tape: 1 George L. Brown describes his relationship with his father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93935">Tape: 1 George L. Brown describes his father's personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93936">Tape: 1 George L. Brown describes how his parents met</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93937">Tape: 1 George L. Brown shares his father's reaction to the day he was born</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93938">Tape: 1 George L. Brown describes his earliest childhood memories</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93939">Tape: 1 George L. Brown describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93940">Tape: 1 George L. Brown describes his experience at Lincoln Elementary School and his love of learning</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93693">Tape: 2 George L. Brown describes his experience on his family's farm in Lawrence, Kansas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93694">Tape: 2 George L. Brown describes his childhood personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93695">Tape: 2 George L. Brown lists the schools he attended in Lawrence, Kansas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93696">Tape: 2 George L. Brown describes his experience studying engineering and journalism at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93697">Tape: 2 George L. Brown describes being hired by the Denver Post</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93698">Tape: 2 George L. Brown describes enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1944</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93699">Tape: 2 George L. Brown describes his experience of segregation in the U.S. Army</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93700">Tape: 2 George L. Brown talks about the sports he played at Liberty Memorial High School in Lawrence, Kansas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93701">Tape: 2 George L. Brown describes traveling to Biloxi, Mississippi after enlisting in the U.S. Army</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93941">Tape: 3 George L. Brown lists some of the Tuskegee Airmen he trained with</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93942">Tape: 3 George L. Brown describes being placed in college prep classes at Liberty Memorial High School in Lawrence, Kansas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93943">Tape: 3 George L. Brown describes his childhood experience with the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93944">Tape: 3 George L. Brown describes returning from the U.S. Army and attending the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93945">Tape: 3 George L. Brown describes the differences in journalism jobs in Kansas and in Denver, Colorado</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93946">Tape: 3 George L. Brown talks about his promotion while at the Denver Post</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93947">Tape: 3 George L. Brown describes his decision to campaign for the Colorado House of Representatives</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93948">Tape: 3 George L. Brown describes his election to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1955</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93949">Tape: 3 George L. Brown describes his election to the Colorado State Senate in 1957</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93711">Tape: 4 George L. Brown talks about the black population in Denver, Colorado during his 1974 campaign for lieutenant governor</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93712">Tape: 4 George L. Brown describes how the sample ballots for his 1957 election discriminated against him</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93713">Tape: 4 George L. Brown describes building his coalition in Colorado</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93714">Tape: 4 George L. Brown talks about Barney Ford and the history of African Americans in Colorado</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93715">Tape: 4 George L. Brown lists his occupations while he was in the Colorado State Senate</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93716">Tape: 4 George L. Brown describes how he became an effective politician during his career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93717">Tape: 4 George L. Brown lists others who shared his concerns</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93718">Tape: 4 George L. Brown describes his aversion to running for office</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93719">Tape: 4 George L. Brown describes using a pocket veto to pass his Fair Employment Practices Bill</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93950">Tape: 5 George L. Brown describes gerrymandering and redistricting in the State Senate</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93951">Tape: 5 George L. Brown describes changes that occurred in Denver, Colorado during his nineteen years in the state legislature</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93952">Tape: 5 George L. Brown describes compromising to pass his Fair Employment Practices Bill</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93953">Tape: 5 George L. Brown describes the relationship between politicians and the press after the Watergate Scandal</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93954">Tape: 5 George L. Brown lists some of the Colorado politicians who served with him on the Joint Budget Committee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93955">Tape: 5 George L. Brown describes his decision to run for lieutenant governor of Colorado</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93956">Tape: 5 George L. Brown describes his relationship with Colorado Governor Richard "Dick" Lamm, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93957">Tape: 5 George L. Brown describes his relationship with Colorado Governor Richard "Dick" Lamm, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93958">Tape: 5 George L. Brown describes his responsibilities as lieutenant governor of Colorado</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93959">Tape: 5 George L. Brown describes being hired at Grumman Aerospace Corporation while serving as lieutenant governor of Colorado</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93960">Tape: 5 George L. Brown talks about other African American politicians in Colorado</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93731">Tape: 6 George L. Brown describes becoming the chief lobbyist for the Grumman Corporation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93732">Tape: 6 George L. Brown describes the difference between his experience at Grumman Aerospace Corporation and being a politician</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93733">Tape: 6 George L. Brown reflects on becoming the chief lobbyist for Grumman Aerospace Corporation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93734">Tape: 6 George L. Brown describes his experience as a lobbyist for Grumman Aerospace Corporation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93735">Tape: 6 George L. Brown describes his career after leaving Grumman Aerospace Corporation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93736">Tape: 6 George L. Brown reflects on getting older</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93737">Tape: 6 George L. Brown reflects on the money he made during his career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93738">Tape: 6 George L. Brown reflects on whether he would run for political office in 2003</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93739">Tape: 6 George L. Brown describes the contemporary African American leaders he respects</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93740">Tape: 6 George L. Brown describes the qualities of a good politician</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93741">Tape: 7 George L. Brown talks about the United States' contemporary foreign policy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93742">Tape: 7 George L. Brown describes what he would still like to do in his life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93743">Tape: 7 George L. Brown talks about Colorado Congresswoman Pat Schroeder</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93744">Tape: 7 George L. Brown talks about HistoryMaker and Congressman Charles Rangel</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93745">Tape: 7 George L. Brown talks about HistoryMaker and New York Mayor David Dinkins</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93746">Tape: 7 George L. Brown reflects upon the decline in statewide African American elected officials</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93747">Tape: 7 George L. Brown reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93748">Tape: 7 George L. Brown describes how he would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93749">Tape: 7 George L. Brown reflects upon his parents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93750">Tape: 7 George L. Brown describes his experience in the march from Selma to Montgomery</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93751">Tape: 7 George L. Brown shares his views on Political Action Committees and the Electoral College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93752">Tape: 8 George L. Brown talks about promoting HistoryMaker Ed Dwight's career as a sculptor</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93753">Tape: 8 George L. Brown describes how Denver, Colorado became a supportive city for African American politicians</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93754">Tape: 8 George L. Brown reflects on how Denver, Colorado can serve as a template for other diverse cities, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93755">Tape: 8 George L. Brown reflects on how Denver, Colorado can serve as a template for other diverse cities, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/93756">Tape: 8 George L. Brown narrates his photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

5$1

DATitle
George L. Brown describes being hired by the Denver Post
George L. Brown describes becoming the chief lobbyist for the Grumman Corporation
Transcript
I had sixteen different job offers. Many of my classmates had none or very few. But they were strange offers. Like, one newspaper said that I could cover the black community, and I could, on Thursdays, I'd have two pages, which all the black news would be run; another one on Sunday or so forth. The one that sounded intriguing was the "Denver Post." And, yet, their response to me was that they wanted me to come out for an interview. And I'd put that aside immediately and then wrote them a short little letter saying, "Thank you, but that I couldn't afford to just run around the country on interviews. I had to have a definite offer." And I got a wire back--telegram back almost immediately as soon as they received it saying that, they're sorry that they had really meant that they were going to pay my way out. And so I went out to Denver [Colorado] for an interview, and I got there--it's another story. I get--took the train out, and I got to Denver, stayed at the "Y," and I went over to the newspaper the first thing in the--the next morning. And I go up to the second floor, which is where the editor's department was. And the editor and publisher was a guy named [Edwin] Palmer Hoyt, whom I was supposed to go see; and [Edmund] Ed Dooley was the city editor. And so there was this lady at the reception desk as you get off the elevator, and I said, "I'd like to see Mr. Palmer Hoyt." And she said, "Who are you?" And I gave her my name, and she says, "What do you want?" I says, "Well, I here to see about a job." And she says, "Well, I know we're not hiring anybody." And I said, "Oh?" And she says, "And I don't have any note that you have an interview scheduled." You can just-- I was devastated. So I went back down to the first floor and standing in the lobby, and the "Denver Post" had just opened a new building, and they had tours and I saw this tour forming and they were going to take them through the plants so they could see how newspaper was made. And since I didn't know how newspaper was made, I said, "Well, I guess I may as well do that and figure out when I'm going to go back home." So I joined the tour, and we went through. And when we got up to the second floor, we came through the back door, and I was right in the middle of the newsroom and, of course, I recognized the newsroom from my short stint at the--on the college paper at the university. And so I saw a fellow, and so I went up to him and I said, "I need to talk to Mr. Hoyt or Mr. Dooley." He says, "Well, I'm Mr. Dooley." He said that, "Who are you?" I said, "George Brown." He said, "Where have you been?" He says, "We've been expecting you. You were supposed to be here this morning." I said, "Well, I've been trying to get in here to see and Mr. Hoyt." So they said, "Well, we're off to lunch." And they took me to the press club for lunch and we talked. And by 1:30, we had decided that I was going to come to work for the "Denver Post." They were going to treat me like any other reporter, which is what I wanted. I didn't want any special treatment. I was going to sign as a cub reporter. They did give me a little more pay than they gave most cubs that came on at that time. And that was the beginning of my journalistic career.$$That's a pretty amazing story.$So you--so this is a whole different thing really, coming to Grumman [Aerospace Corporation, now Northrop Grumman].$$Mmhm.$$And they are--why don't you describe what they, you know, what type of organization it was. They're now Northrop Grumman. Right?$$Northrop Grumman. Right. Let me start as to how I got there. This fella named Jean Esquerry is a Tuskegee Airman, and I came back to New York to sign state bonds and to make a speech, and Jean said would I come out to Grumman where he worked. And he was in the Human Relations Department and wanted me to speak to their officers and talk about diversity and things like that. So I agreed. And I went and spoke at various plants. And towards the end of the afternoon, early evening, the CEO said he'd like to speak with me alone. And the two of us sat and talked and had a lot in common, guy named John Bierwirth--Jack Bierwirth, wonderful guy--and he said, "You know, we'd like you to join us, like, tomorrow." And that's when I said, "No, I want to serve out my term [as lieutenant governor of Colorado], but I'm interested if you're interested when it's over." And we soon came to an agreement that we--that I would do that. Grumman was a firm that had, at that point, no black officers. I was the first and some others followed. There were no women officers. There was a lot of nepotism. It was a non-union firm based in Long Island [New York], which meant that it had a high overhead because of its location competing with companies that had placed their headquarters in low cost employment areas; had good products; made outstanding airplanes during World War II, and had gotten--filled a niche in the space--in the--you know, the space vehicle, they had made most of the parts of that and the like. So it was a good firm. It was a good match for me, because I was expected with the CEO's support to make some changes, interior changes, within that firm; different ways of thinking; different opportunities so that minorities in the firm could look to doing something other than the lower-type jobs; and, yet, at the same time, thinking in terms of what I should help do as far as a national image in a industry image. However, when I talked to Jack, I said, "There's some things I don't want to do. I don't want to lobby." I said, "That's where I was, had done before, or have anything to do with Human Services. I don't want to be your Equal Opportunity Officer, and I don't want anything over in Public Relations." So as I thought about it, I said, "Hell, that's all I got to offer. That's been my history." To his credit, and I guess his belief in me, he said, "Fine." He said, "There are other things we can do and you can do." And so I went with one of the subsidiaries in the beginning, the one on energy systems. And then they sent me off to Harvard [Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts] for that stint, and I came back and I started taking over some of the Human Services divisions. They came under me. And the next thing I knew, he called me in, he said, "Look. Would you like to--" or would you, not like to, "would you go to New York--" I mean, "to Washington [D.C.] as our chief lobbyist for a period of time?" And I said to myself, "Well, I know this is going to be a period of time until I'm out of here," but I realized I liked him and he had a need and if I can fill it, so I came and ran the Washington office and was our chief lobbyist at that time. And--well, I saw a lot of change at Grumman: some good and some bad, mostly good. And it was a good company. Good company.