Who was Louis D. Brown?
Louis D. Brown 1978-1993. A champion of peace whose legacy lives on.
Louis D. Brown dreamed on a wide screen. He was 15 and a 10th grader at West Roxbury High School in the fall of 1993. He'd already decided he was going places. College was high on his agenda then graduate school, where he intended to earn a doctoral degree in aerodynamic engineering. However, his long term goal - the one he talked about the most with his family and friends - was to become the first African-American--and youngest ever--President of the United States.
Louis attended the Boston Public Schools: John Marshall Elementary and the Richard Murphy School for advanced studies. His teacher said “he fit in beautifully with this group of talented peers and he was often described as a special kid, warm, talented, personable and polite, a boy who was kind to others, who told the truth even when it was difficult, who had a curious mind, and who wanted to learn and do well.”
Louis was an intelligent, capable student, who, like many teenagers his age, was still finding his way. He wasn’t perfect, though as his teacher said: he was pretty close to it. There were times he didn’t always do his homework. He also struggled with the image of being smart and being called a “nerd” in a culture where sometimes it was not “cool” to be too smart. Through it all, Louis believed that he would be famous some day. Louis dared to dream big.
In the 8th grade, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, he was a student in the First Class Prep Program where he “learned to make the impossible become possible.” He also realized that “it was fun to be a preppie.” His advice to incoming eighth graders was “to work smart, not hard; try to do the best you can do and not what people expect to see.” At home, he enjoyed his Nintendo games. He spent most of his time after school at home with his family and devoted a considerable amount of time to his hobbies which included music, reading and creating projects. He spent most of his young life in his third floor bedroom surrounded by his things and by stacks of books that he read for pleasure and to fulfill class assignments. His reading was eclectic and included titles like: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Oprah, To Be Popular or Smart, The Book of Presidents, I Am Third, The Story of Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers, The Adventures of Huck Finn, and the Lexicon Universal Encyclopedia. He also loved comic books like Archie and the Marvels, collected the Sunday TV week, Matchbook Cars and Caps.
In 1993, just before he was taken from us, Louis had another important life transformation. He wanted to do something to make his community a better place. He wanted to change the image that some people had of African-American teens—that they could not succeed at anything. He wanted to be a role model to other teens that they could work to change their circumstances; and most importantly, that they could work for peace. He joined the Teens Against Gang Violence - a place for teenagers who view peace and justice as means of reducing violence. Often Louis would say “I want young people I went to school with, and from my community to be active in my government. However, if things don't change, I’ll be alone in the White House; because by the time I become president, my peers will all be dead, addicted to drugs or in jail.”
Louis dared to dream a better future for his peers and his community and demonstrated the commitment to work toward realizing his dream. Louis would have been 31, this year, had he survived the cruel irony of being caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout while on his way to a Teens Against Gang Violence meeting. Louis might be looking down on us, now, dispelling the irony of why things happened for him the way they did. Despite all of the pain and sorrow of the loss of someone with such great promise, he has indeed achieved his goal of becoming “famous.” Louis’ life work began as a teen and continues on. Louis’ short life has become an inspiration for all young people who dare to dream big and work for peace. He has become a symbol for peace in his community, which he persistently worked to achieve.