Ron Brown (U.S. politician)

Infobox US Cabinet official
name=Ronald Harmon Brown

title=United States Secretary of Commerce
term_start=January 22, 1993
term_end=April 3, 1996
predecessor=Barbara Hackman Franklin
successor=Mickey Kantor
birth_date=birth date|1941|8|1|mf=y
birth_place=Washington, D.C.
death_date=death date and age|1996|4|3|1941|8|1|mf=y
death_place=near Dubrovnik, Croatia

Ronald Harmon Brown (August 1, 1941 – April 3, 1996), was the United States Secretary of Commerce, serving during the first term of President Bill Clinton. He was the first African American to hold this position.

Early life and political career


While at Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont, Ron Brown became the first African-American member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, a national men's collegiate fraternity. Brown joined the army in 1962, after graduating from Middlebury College in Vermont, and served in South Korea and Europe, the same year he married Alma Arrington. After being discharged in 1967, Brown joined the National Urban League, a leading economic equality group in the United States. Meanwhile, Brown enrolled in law school at St. John's University and obtained a degree in 1970.

Rising star in the Democratic Party

By 1976, Brown had been promoted to Deputy Executive Director for Programs and Governmental Affairs of the National Urban League. However, he resigned in 1979 to work as a deputy campaign manager for Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who sought the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Brown was hired in 1981 by the Washington, D.C., law firm Patton, Boggs & Blow as a lawyer and a lobbyist.

In May, 1988, Brown was named by Jesse L. Jackson to head Jackson's convention team at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. Brown was named along with several other experienced party insiders to Jackson's convention operation. By June, it was apparent that Brown was also running Jackson's campaign.

Brown was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1989, and played an integral role in running a successful 1992 Democratic National Convention and in Bill Clinton's successful 1992 presidential run. President Clinton then appointed Brown to the position of Secretary of Commerce in 1993.


On April 3, 1996, while on an official trade mission, the Air Force CT-43 (a modified Boeing 737) carrying Brown and 34 other people, including "New York Times" Frankfurt Bureau chief Nathaniel C. Nash, crashed in Croatia. While attempting an instrument approach to Čilipi airport, the airplane crashed into a mountainside. Everyone aboard was killed in the crash except for a single survivor in the tail section, who died while being transported to a hospital. [ [ Pilot error, poor equipment blamed for Brown plane crash] , from Published 7 June 1996; accessed 12 September 2008.] The final Air Force investigation attributed this to pilot error and a poorly designed landing approach. [ [ Department of Defense news article] ]


President Clinton established the Ron Brown Award for corporate leadership and responsibility. The Conference Board administers the privately funded award. S. C. Johnson & Son, Bayer Corporation, and Johnson & Johnson received the 2006 awards.

The U.S. Department of Commerce also gives out the annual Ronald H. Brown American Innovator Award in his honor.

The largest ship in the NOAA fleet, the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown, was named in honor of his public service not long after his death.

The [ California Black Chamber of Commerce] , every August, holds the Ron Brown Business Economic Summit.

External links

* [ The Ron Brown Award]
* [ Details from the USAF accident report]


*Clinton, Bill (2005). "My Life". Vintage. ISBN 1-4000-3003-X.


*Jack Cashill, "Ron Brown's Body" (WND Books, 2004) ISBN 0-7852-6237-7

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