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Ron Brown:
A Man Who "Made History"

Rev. Jesse Jackson
Washington, D.C.

Rev. Jesse Jackson, president and founder of the National Rainbow Coalition, released the following statement on the death of U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.

Our hearts are extremely heavy today. We were hoping against hope that Ron Brown and his delegation would somehow survive the crash in Croatia. So now, we send our prayers to the families of Ron Brown and those who accompanied him on such a valiant mission.

Ron's legacy will be that he augmented history by winning, then made history of his own by working.

Ron Brown could walk and talk with heads of government and industry, yet never forgot his roots, in the African American community. He was a keen negotiator, who brought that skill to my 1988 Presidential campaign. He helped the Rainbow Coalition prove to the world that no what your circumstances, you can dream and achieve beyond them. That Ron did, becoming one of the most effective heads of the Democratic National Committee and Commerce Department.

William Morton and Carol Hamilton were two other people on that ill-fated plane who worked on my 1988 campaign. When we lose talented people with so much to offer -- like Ron, Bill, Carol and others -- people of faith must take shelter in their faith.

On this day 28 years ago, I learned a painful lesson about the strength of faith on a hotel balcony in Memphis. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spent his last day finding ways to improve the lives of the poor, and expanding opportunities for workers. In their way, Ron Brown and his delegation were doing the same thing. They will be sorely missed, but their contribution will not be forgotten.

The loss of the Commerce Department mission hit the civil rights and African American communities especially hard yesterday. The day began with the death of Carl Stokes, the first African American mayor of Cleveland, Ohio. Carl was not only a leader in his community, but worked to help disenfranchised people around the country. Also yesterday, noted lawyer, civil and south African rights activist Haywood Burns was killed in a car crash in South Africa. It is left to the rest of us to carry their torch.

Published in In Motion Magazine August 29, 1998.

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