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Broward County's first black mayor dies

Published:Wednesday | March 3, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Samuel Brown, the St Mary-born educator who became the first elected black mayor in Broward County, Florida, died February 3 at the age of 87.

Brown served three terms as mayor of Lauderdale Lakes for 10 years from 1998-2008. He was remembered as a selfless man during his funeral on February 19 at the Merrell United Methodist Church in that city.

"He was a servant of the people, it was never about himself. It was about service to community," said Barrington Russell Sr, who succeeded Brown as mayor.

More than 500 persons turned out for the service, including his four children - Michelle Stuart, Grace Reid, Blossom Brown and Alexander Brown. Consul general of Jamaica, Sandra Grant Griffiths, Vance Carter of the Jamaica Consulate in Miami, and Hazelle Rogers of Florida's House of Representatives also attended.


Michelle Stuart told
The Gleaner
that her father was born in Oxford district and immigrated to the United States in the 1950s. He worked as a special education teacher and graphic artist in Queens, New York City.

She said he and his wife, Minette, moved to South Florida in 1982, settling in Lauderdale Lakes. She died in October 2008.

Brown became involved in civic activities in Lauderdale Lakes. The community has a strong Jamaican and Caribbean populace, many of whom retired to sunny South Florida after living for decades in the northern United States.

Brown helped to establish several programmes in Lauderdale Lakes, such as the Citizen's Observer Patrol. In 1998, he defeated the incumbent Alfonso Gereffi to become its first elected black mayor.

Black officials had held the office before, but they were chosen by fellow commissioners, not by ballot.

Stuart told
The Gleaner
that her father visited Jamaica regularly, but failing health restricted his movement in recent years. She said he last travelled to his homeland in 2005.