Former State Sen. Robert Brown, 1950-2011, !Presente!

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(APN) ATLANTA — Former State Sen. Robert Brown, 61, who had served as Georgia State Senate Minority Leader until earlier this year, was found dead this week in an apparent suicide.

Brown graduated from Mercer University in Macon, and went on to be a strong advocate for the school.

He was elected to the State Senate in 1991, in a Special Election, to represent Senate District 26, an area including Twiggs County; part of Bibb County, including Macon; and parts of Houston County and Wilkinson County.  He was the first Black state senator to serve Bibb County in the county’s history.  He was elected Minority Leader in 2005.

Prior to that, he served three terms as a member of the Board of Education of Bibb County.

Brown resigned from the State Senate in April 2011 so that he could run for Mayor of Macon; however, he finished third in the General Election, behind incumbent Mayor Robert Reichert and former Mayor C. Jack Ellis.

“He was one of the brightest people I’ve ever worked with.  One of the most loyal political friends you could ever have, a true believer,” former House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter said in a statement.

“He will be missed.  Georgia lost a good man,” Porter said.

“Senator Brown held his Caucus together during some legendary political battles.  He was a valiant fighter for education and opportunity for everyone,” Democratic Party of Georgia Chairman Mike Berlon said in a statement, referring to Brown’s recent role in the effort to preserve Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship program, which was covered by Atlanta Progressive News.

“Whether you agreed with Robert Brown or not, you respected him.  Many of his political opponents made the mistake of underestimating him.  They rarely made that same mistake twice,” Berlon said.

Former US Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), a friend of Sen. Brown, said that Brown had faced attacks in the Mayoral campaign this year.

“The media demonization of him was such that I received a call during his campaign from a supporter saying that ‘they [the media] were treating Robert worse than’ the media treat me!  I checked in with Robert and we had a laugh about it.  It is no laughing matter, however,” McKinney said in a statement.

“State Senator Brown and I were working on a project to infuse Georgia politics with a much-needed added dimension: that is, independent voting.  Due to Georgia ballot access and other election laws, it is veritably impossible for voters to declare their independence from both the Democratic and Republican parties’ monopoly over Georgia politics.  State Senator Robert Brown came to see how the current political landscape could be improved in our State by widening the political discourse to include voters who consider themselves as ‘independents,’” McKinney said.

“Robert and I talked for hours at a time approximately once a month about the progress of various projects in addition to our independent voter project.  We had also discussed putting a newspaper together for Middle Georgia that catered to the independent voter.  And the unresolved situation of Black Farmers was also a part of our conversation,” McKinney said.

“The loss to Georgia is unmeasurable.  State Senator Robert Brown loved Georgia.  He loved Macon… Despite Robert not winning the Mayor’s race, with me he continually discussed his commitment to changing the level of engagement in Georgia politics, particularly of Georgia’s Black voters,” McKinney said.

“Robert was a servant leader, never thinking of himself, but always of the people of this State and their needs.  I am still in a state of shock and am searching for information and answers.  We all are diminished by Robert’s irreplaceable absence.  And I have lost a dear friend,” McKinney said.

While there is no evidence of what Brown’s reasons may have been for taking his own life, he was struggling with what appear to have been serious physical ailments.

According to the Macon Telegraph newspaper, Brown had undergone radiation treatment for a cyst that had developed on one of his legs about three or four years ago, and had to be hospitalized for six months when it burst.

And according to Brown’s cousin, Calvin Williams, who was cited in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution newspaper, Brown had struggled with abdominal pain in recent weeks which had made him feel weak and caused him to walk gingerly.

(END/2011)

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