4 minute read

Jim Brown

Social Consciousness

His first step was to start his own production company, Ocean Productions, an attempt to provide minorities with a greater role in cinema. Not an overwhelming success, it was the first step in what would be the third phase of his life and career. As the founder of the Black Economic Union during his football days, Brown had the ambition and intelligence to use his influence to help those less fortunate and continues to today. It was rap music that awakened Brown's consciousness. "I said, 'Damn, these young brothers have got some consciousness.' I started hooking into this energy," Brown said of the music of Public Enemy.

Using his celebrity to call attention to the problems of the inner city, Brown founded Amer-I-Can in 1987. Amer-I-Can attempts to instill personal growth techniques and life management skills in gang members and prison inmates. With his powerful presence, Brown often conducts seminars with Los Angeles' gang members in his house in the Hollywood Hills. Granted money to move into other cities, his is a continuing struggle that he feels could use even more help. Feeling that more popular athletes could contribute to these problems, Brown has said: "They are the beneficiaries of our struggle. But they don't recognize that because they're inundated with agents, managers, lawyers and owners who don't want them to do anything but play ball and be physical freaks of nature with no awareness." Brown's call to arms hasn't led to an increase in superstar athletes lending their skills but on his own he has made an impact. "So far I'm very encouraged," said Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones in 1991, of the decrease in gang violence in the city. "It's the most satisfying time of my life," Brown has said. "I get a phone call from some dangerous kid on the street—and I answer my own phone, no middlemen—who wants to change his life. He'll come up here I show him a little respect, trust and without much help he can change his life."

Career Statistics

Rushing Receiving
Yr Team ATT YDS AVG TD REC YDS AVG TD
Cleveland: Cleveland Browns.
1957 Cleveland 202 942 4.7 9 16 55 3.4 1
1958 Cleveland 257 1,527 5.9 17 16 138 8.6 1
1959 Cleveland 290 1,329 4.6 14 24 190 7.9 0
1960 Cleveland 215 1,257 5.8 9 19 204 10.7 2
1961 Cleveland 305 1,408 4.6 8 46 459 10.0 2
1962 Cleveland 230 996 4.3 13 47 517 11.0 5
1963 Cleveland 291 1,863 6.4 12 24 268 11.2 3
1964 Cleveland 280 1,446 5.2 7 36 340 9.4 2
1965 Cleveland 289 1,544 5.3 17 34 328 9.6 4
TOTAL 2,359 12,312 5.2 106 262 2,499 9.5 20

Brown's social activity harkens back to an era when athletes used their platform to try and strike change in their communities. "In the 60's when I called athletes to come and talk to [Muhammad] Ali, they didn't bring their agents, managers and lawyers. They came because they thought it was worthwhile. We athletes were just like normal citizens in those days, fighting for our rights," he said in a recent interview. "We didn't put our sport before our manhood." Brown's commitment to giving back to his community even extended to a threat to pull out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, to which he was elected in 1971, because he believes the board that elects its members is racist. "I don't want to become a white black man

Jim Brown

and forget my brothers," Brown has said, of his outspokenness on civil rights issues. "If black people don't get my helping hand, there won't be any helping hand."

Where Is He Now?

Brown served time in the Ventura County Jail after being convicted of misdemeanor vandalism incident. The charge was the result of a domestic dispute between Brown and his wife, Monique. After Brown was released from jail in July, 2002, he and Monique returned to his Hollywood Hills home. Brown continues to be active in his adopted social causes and is the topic of a new documentary on his life directed by Spike Lee.

Throughout his record setting football career with the Cleveland Browns, Jim Brown had a fearless approach to the game and in taking on Hollywood and the problems of the inner city he has displayed the same gritty determination. His example is part modern day superstar and part throwback to a more socially conscious era but either way it has kept him a successful and contributing member of society long after his gridiron glory had become a memory. He had the courage to walk away from the game before he became a shadow of himself and in the aftermath continues to hurdle over obstacles well into his sixties.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsFootballJim Brown Biography - The Early Days, Brown And The Browns, Hollywood And Retirement, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments