This past weekend was a whirlwind tour for me. My wife and youngest daughter Regina Wilson got me to go to San Francisco to receive the Justus F. Craemer, Newspaper Executive of the Year Award from the California Press Association for my editorial writing and positions taken on key issues in the community.
One never knows who is reading or watching what you do or the impact it is having on individuals or the broader community. I always get feedback from my church members and the late Rev. Williams Jacks would always call me up and say “Brother Brown when are you doing your political endorsements so I can vote.” Then I found that most of the church community in Riverside and San Bernardino was waiting and reading my endorsements so they could vote. My Aunt Norma Archie still calls me for other members to say “Hardy don’t forget to do my endorsements”. My friend Rev. Benjamin Inghram would say to me, before he passed, “Brother Brown I wish the greater community could read what you are saying so they would understand where we are coming from on some of these issues.” Rev Inghram would be proud to know that the greater community gave me this honor.
This led me to contact candidates for interviews and research their stance on issues and ballot measures. I thank God everyday for the invention of the internet because now with my physical and verbal limitations from a degenerative neuromuscular condition PLS/ALS, I do not have to go to a bunch of meetings. I can watch public meetings from anywhere in the world on television and webcams from my computer in the office or at home.
I also thank God for my condition because without it, I would not be writing my weekly editorial because I would be too busy running around attending meetings and talking about what someone else should do. He told Paul I am not going to remove the “thorn from your flesh” because “my grace is sufficient for thee” in other words don’t be limited by what you think are limitations but trust in me and I will expand your boundaries and influence, as I did with Jabez.
I am thankful that my parents, Floyd and Essie Brown taught me the value of trying to treat people right and being involved in the community. I am also thankful that Edison and Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program showed me what corporate responsibility to one’s community should do. I am thankful for the public for electing me to the San Bernardino School Board for that is where I learned what good public policy can do in people’s life and that one person can make a difference. I am thankful for my wife, who has devoted her life to helping me in everything I have done over the past fifty years and not wavering as my helpmate. I am thankful for my children, who now work with me everyday and who are making my vision their vision. I am thankful to our staff, especially Lee Ragin, for making sure everything is laid out and in proper order before printing time. I am thankful to my mentor in the newspaper business Sam Martin who gave me the opportunity to own the Black Voice News and told me people need a voice. Last but not least, I am thankful to the Inland Empire community who support the paper each and every week with church and business advertising and readership.
Every week a member of St. Paul AME Church, Brother Abraham, gives my wife one dollar to give to me for delivering the paper to him. This is the kind of support we get from the community for putting out an issue each and every week.
However, it is from my past life experiences that I write the way I write and say it the way I do. I was engaged in a telephone conversation with my brother, Charles Donnie who still lives in Trenton, North Carolina, when he said my editorial reminded him of what we had to do in order to swim in the river behind our house. Each summer the brush and weeds would grow thick covering the pathway to the river. And each summer that would bring out the snakes which loved to hide in the thick brush. So in order to swim that meant making a new path to the river by making a loud noise and cutting back the brush so we could see and not get bitten by these sliding critters. Snakes do not like loud noises and neither do people in public life.
So in thanking the California Press Association for this prestigious honor, I say let us keep on making some noise so the snakes will move and Press Enterprise Publisher Ron Redfern for nominating me.