Sam Brown

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Sam Brown (right) was the Director of the Action Corps which administered the Peace Corps, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and other service programs. Richard Celeste (left) was appointed Peace Corps director after the resignation of Peace Corps Director Carolyn Payton. Photo: The Cover from "Action Update" for August 16, 1979. Derivative Work: Hugh Pickens
Sam Brown was appointed Director of the Action Corps by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. One of Brown's initiatives as Action director was to have VISTA workers support Carter's energy conservation policies. Photo: The Cover from "Action Update" for September 30, 1979. Derivative Work: Hugh Pickens

Sam W. Brown, Jr. is a politician and political activist.

Early Life and Education

Sam W. Brown, Jr. was born July 27, 1943 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.[1] After graduating from High School in Council Bluffs, Brown attended the University of Redlands in California.[2] In 1967 Brown was the chairman of the National Student Association's national supervisory board.[3] In 1967 Brown ran for president of the National Student Association and lost.[2] Brown received a B.A. from the University of Redlands in 1965, an M.A. from Rutgers University in 1966, pursued graduate studies at Harvard University Divinity School from 1966-1968, and was a Fellow at the John F. Kennedy Institute of Politics, Harvard University, in 1969.[1]

Antiwar Organizer

Vietnam Summer

Brown first got involved in organizing during "Vietnam Summer" in 1967 when five hundred paid staffers and twenty-six thousand volunteers organized hundreds of grass roots antiwar projects.[4] Brown was one of the volunteers who gained valuable experience during Vietnam Summer.[4] "I know the first time that I ever went and knocked on somebody's door and waited for them to answer so that could tell them that I wanted to talk to them about the war was not an easy moment," said Brown.[4] Brown said that the volunteers gained valuable organizing skills that he and others would later apply during Eugene McCarthy's presidential bid.[4] "To some extent the McCarthy campaign couldn't have happened without that," said Brown.[4]

Youth Coordinator for McCarthy for President

Brown was the youth coordinator for Senator Eugene J. McCarthy's Presidential campaign.[2] According to Tom Wells in his book The War Within Brown would sometimes entertain the notion that McCarthy could win the nomination "sometimes for up to thirty minutes at a stretch."[5] The campaign's main appeal for Brown was that "it gave an opportunity and gave an excuse to walk up to people's doors and say, 'Hi. I'm Sam Brown. I'm here because I'd like to talk to you about the war in Vietnam - and about Gene McCarthy.'"[5] Brown hoped that the McCarthy campaign would show people that protesters were "not some crazy minority."[5]

In 2008 Brown's wife, Alison Teal, wrote about Brown's role at the 1968 Democratic Convention.[6] "In 1968, my husband Sam was the liaison between the McCarthy campaign and the protesters and was eventually a defense witness at the Trial of the Chicago Seven," wrote Teal.[6] "Within the leadership of the 1968 convention, there were agents provocateurs from the Chicago police and the FBI. This time around, it looks like they may be from the McCain campaign and the kooky right."[6]

Brown says that hard work is the secret for being a successful organizer.[2] "You have to be willing to work for very long hours for very little renumeration," says Brown.[2] "But there's a great psychic renumeration."[2] "Sam has three great qualities," said a friend in 1969.[2] "He is willing to work every minute of every day. He is calm in the most tense crises. And he is a terribly, terribly nice, sweet person."[2] Brown said in 1969 that organizing is what he does best and that he does not want to become a celebrity.[2] "The worst thing that can happen to an organizer is to become identified as a leader," said Brown.[2] "There s a terrific antileadership bias in the country now."[2]

Coordinator for the Vietnam Moratorium Committee

In April 1969 while Brown was a graduate student in ethics at Harvard Divinity School, Jerome Grossman came to Brown with the idea for a nationwide strike to protest the war in Vietnam.[2] Brown liked the idea but suggested that instead of calling it a strike, that it be called a moratorium. In June 1969 Brown moved to Washington and set up the office of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee.[2] David E. Rosembaum wrote in the New York Times in 1969 that Brown "is a young man with a genius for organizing who has been the prime mover behind the Vietnam Moratorium protests.[2]

As part of organizing the moratorium, the group tan three full page advertisements in the New York Times for a total cost of $26,328.[7] Brown drew a salary from the moratorium committee of $75 a week.[7] One of Brown's roles in organizing the Moratorium was fund raising which Brown called "the most demeaning thing there is."[2] Nonetheless Brown went on fund raising trips and appeared on television as the moratorium's spokesman.[2] Brown brought his contact lists from the McCarthy campaign with him to work on the Moratorium.[7] "Lists are the guts of organizing," says Brown.[7] Brown's lists included people who had contributed to liberal causes in the past, community organizers, and a list of faculty members who had signed antiwar advertisements.[7]

On October 15, 1969 thousands of people mobilized against the war in the moratorium's first demonstration.[8] On Novmber 15, 1969 a crowd estimated at 250,000 had a massive demonstration at the Washington Monument.[8] After the November 15 demonstration the energy in the movement seemed to dissipate.[8] Observers attributed the apathy to President Nixon's November 3 speech in which he outlined his plan for "Vietnamization" of the Vietnam war.[8] Brown called Nixon's speech "a tremendous political coup by managing to identify himself with the cause of peace."[8] The organizers said that the demonstrations had been at least a partial success and took some credit for Nixon's troop withdrawals and the dismissal of the head of Selective Service, General Lewis B. Hershey.[8] The New York Times reported that the committee was $100,000 in debt.[8] Brown said he hoped to make up the deficit through several "peace concerts."[8]

The Moratorium Committee announced on April 19, 1970 that it was disbanding and the organizers said that money had dried up and the "political fad" of large demonstrations had run its course.[8] The four national coordinators including Brown said that they each planned to continue antiwar activities on their own.[8] Brown said that he planned to write an organization manual on how to organize.[8] "You'd be surprised how many people don't know how to draw up a telephone tree, set up an office, call a press conference," said Brown.[8] "I want to tell them how to do this."[8]

Storefront Organizing: A Mornin' Glories' Manual

In 1972 Brown published Storefront Organizing: A Mornin' Glories' Manual.[9] Brown dedicated the book to Jesse Unruh "who taught me the importance of organization" and to Gene McCarthy who showed Brown that "there are some things worth organizing for."[9] The book s a compendium of some of the basics of organizing "to help and encourage people who want to organize."[9] Brown doesn't claim the book s definitive because "imagination and inventiveness are the prime ingredients of organizing."[9] Brown says he wrote the book to be effective regardless of one's ideological point of view.[9] However, Brown states that "the bias is against the status quo, rather than for it" because "the few have always been well organized, the many have never been organized and have never had a voice. Grassroots organization is the way to change that."[9] Brown's book contains the nuts and bolts of grassroots organizing including discussion of such topics as establishing a storefront, finding support in your community, planning programs, getting out crowds, handling the press, fundraising, planning rallies, and canvasing and getting out the vote.[9]

Post Organizing Activities

Brown worked as a consultant for the FUND for Neighborhood Development from 1972-1973.[1] Brown was Vice President of Brown's Better Shoes from 1970 to 1974.[1]

Election as Treasurer of the State of Colorado

Brown was elected Treasurer of the State of Colorado and served in the position from 1975 to 1977. [1]

Action Corps Director

Sam Brown was appointed Director of the Action by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. Action Director Brown clashed with Peace Corps Director Carolyn Payton.[10] Brown announced that the Peace Corps would only work in the poorest countries based on GNP and announced that the Peace Corps would pull out of countries that did not meet its criteria for aid.[11] Peace Corps Director Payton responded that "Whether or not we could find satisfactory jobs for volunteers was a better criteria than how much money a country has...It's offensive to me to tell a host country what their needs are."[11] Photo: Action Update Derivative Work: Hugh Pickens

Brown was appointed Director of Action by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.[10] Action Corps had been created in 1971 by President Richard Nixon to administer the Peace Corps, Volunteers in Service to America and other service programs.[11]

Changes in the Peace Corps Mission

Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman wrote in her book All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s that Brown had little interest in the Peace Corps.[12] "He made no effort to restore the Peace Corps's autonomy (which would have diminished the size of his own agency), instead arguing that it was time to work 'within the system,'" wrote Cobbs Hoffman.[12] "He waited five months to appoint a director for the Peace Corps (the first woman and first minority), and then ignored her counsel.[12] Cobbs Hoffman says that Brown brought a leftist critique of the Peace Corps and vowed to rid the Peace Corps of it's "cultural imperialism."

Action Director Brown clashed with Peace Corps Director Carolyn Payton.[10] Brown announced that the Peace Corps would only work in the poorest countries based on GNP and announced that the Peace Corps would pull out of countries that did not meet its criteria for aid.[12] Peace Corps Director Payton responded that "Whether or not we could find satisfactory jobs for volunteers was a better criteria than how much money a country has...It's offensive to me to tell a host country what their needs are."[12]

Brown wanted to "send volunteers for short periods to developing countries and then bring back the skills they had learned to fight poverty in the United States".[10] According to Payton, Brown's policy went against the original goals of the Peace Corps and said that Brown was "trying to turn the corps into an arrogant, elitist political organization intended to meddle in the affairs of foreign governments."[10] According to Senate testimony[13] Payton's differences with Brown ended in an argument during a trip to Morocco, when Brown openly berated Dr. Payton before Action Corps officials and Brown's "attacks culminated with a midnight phone-call demanding her resignation, which she refused to give, after which he went to her hotel room and pounded on her door for a full fifteen minutes, demanding to be let in to continue his harassment".[13]

Resignation of Peace Corps Director Carolyn Payton

Payton resigned in November 1978 after thirteen months as Director citing, in part, policy differences between ACTION and the Peace Corps saying "as Director, I could not, because of the peculiar administrative structure under which the Peace Corps operates, do anything about this situation. As an ex-director, I am free to sound the alarm."[10] After Payton's resignation, President Carter issued an executive order taking the Peace Corps out from under ACTION and making it a fully autonomous agency.[14]

President Carter issues Executive Order providing autonomy for the Peace Corps from Brown's Action Corps

On May 16, 1979 President Carter issued Executive Order 12137 providing autonomy for the Peace Corps from the authority of Brown's Action Corps.[15] "Exclusive of the functions otherwise delegated by or reserved to the President by this Order, and subject to the provisions of this Order, there are hereby delegated to the Director (of the Peace Corps) all functions conferred upon the President by the Act and by Section 2 (b) of Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1971."[15]

Appointment of Richard Celeste as Peace Corps Director

After Payton's resignation, Richard Celeste was appointed the new Peace Corps Director[16] on April 27, 1979.Template:Fact Brown continued to insist that Peace Corps remain part of Action Corps and Brown continued to justify his changes in the mission of the Peace Corps.[16] In the December 8, 1979 issue of "Action Update" sent a message to Peace Corps staff and volunteers: "I think we've made a lot of progress in Peace Corps in the past year and a half," wrote Brown.[16] "The Directors have clearly picked up on our basic human needs mandate and are actively, and often with real pride, beginning to implement that policy. We have many new projects now that should have real impact on helping poor communities achieve lasting self-reliance."[16]

"We've been through some rough periods; we've had some disagreements in the past about how best to build up the Peace Corps," wrote Brown.[16] "I don't think we need to substantially increase numbers of either volunteers or countries to make Peace corps better. That's in any case unlikely given our budget constraints."[16]

According to P. David Searles in his book the Peace Corps Experience Celeste instantly recognized the inappropriateness of the Action Corps connection to the Peace Corps and had sufficient clout to take the first major step to restoring Peace Corps' independence from Action.[17] "Under Celeste the agency was given considerable autonomy to direct its own affairs," wrote Searles, "although strictly speaking it remained under the Action umbrella."[17]

"I ran the Peace Corps"

As the years have passed, Brown doesn't say that he ran the Action Corps but that he ran the Peace Corps.[18] In an interview with Joseph Flitchett of the International Herald Tribune in 1994 Brown implied that he had been Director of the Peace Corps.[18] "Actually, this is my second tour. In the Carter administration, I ran the Peace Corps," said Brown in the interview when asked about his previous governmental experience.[18] Brown was not the Director of the Peace Corps. Brown was the Director of the Action Corps which at the beginning of Brown's tenure included both the Peace Corps and VISTA as components.[18] However after Peace Corps Director Carolyn Payton resigned in 1978 protesting Brown's policies, President Carter issued an executive order making the Peace Corps a fully autonomous agency over which the Action Corps had limited authority.[14]

Later Political Activism and Government Service

Work in Private Sector

Brown has been General Partner of Centennial Partners, Limited, a real estate development firm with offices in Colorado and California, since 1981.[1]

Support for First Gulf War

The New York Times reported in 1991 that Brown said that force could be necessary to restore stability in the Middle East and keep nuclear weapons from the hands of Saddam Hussein.[19] "It's a real odd thing for an old anti-war person to be thinking, but there are wars and there are wars," said Brown.[19] "Every time I hear a parallel to Vietnam, I blanch. I see the movement people gearing up, the same familiar faces, and I want to say, 'Hold on, hold on.' It's a wholly different situation that needs to be analyzed on its own merits."[19]

Head of Delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE)

Margaret Carlson reported in Time Magazine in 1994 that President Clinton had appointed Brown Ambassador to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), a 52-nation organization in Vienna that mediates conflicts in the former Soviet republics and promotes human rights, and that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had held hearings on Brown on November 18, 1993 and approved his nomination by a vote of 11 to 9.[20] Before Brown's nomination could come to a Senate vote, Republicans Jesse Helms of North Carolina and Hank Brown of Colorado sent Brown a barrage of over 100 questions including why Brown had dropped a requirement that Peace Corps volunteers be instructed in the menace of communism and whether Brown had thrown any objects, "including human feces," at the 1968 Democratic Convention. "No one understands why Hank Brown has decided to make Sam Brown his nemesis," wrote Carlson.[20] "Some think Hank Brown simply wants to zing the President, refight the Vietnam War and triumph over an old rival. (Sam Brown was treasurer of Colorado; Hank Brown was a member of the state legislature.)"[20]

Brown's supporters were unable to overcome a Republican-led filibuster against giving ambassadorial rank to Brown and President Clinton went ahead with Brown's appointment without senate approval.[21] Brown served a full tour as the Head of Delegation, without the rank of ambassador, to the US Mission to the OSCE in Vienna.[22]

As head of delegation Brown defended the CSCE as an alternative to NATO in shaping European security.[18] "The CSCE is the natural multilateral forum, as the trans-Atlantic institution where Russia has an equal voice, for work on these questions. This is not war and peace in the traditional sense, but instability around Russia's borders. It's very different from what NATO does," said Brown.[18] "The CSCE doesn't have guns and is not going to have. It doesn't have the strength of NATO's unanimity. But NATO isn't equipped to handle some things we do."[18]

Executive Director of the Fair Labor Association (FLA)

The Fair Labor Association (FLA) named Brown their Executive Director in January 2000.[23] The Fair Labor Association is a non-profit organization designed to complement existing international and national labor laws that was created in 1999 after President Bill Clinton recognized the need for supervision over the apparel industry regarding issues of human rights.[24]

Role in 2004 Election

Brown worked to raise funds for John Kerry in the 2004 election and was not happy about the debate over Kerry's service in Vietnam.[25] "I'm really upset that we're stuck on Vietnam," he said, "but what really appalls me is that unlike 1968, when there was a real clash of ideas, this year we hear nothing from either candidate - not Bush, not Kerry - about what they propose to do to extract us from this awful mess in Iraq."[25] Thirty-six years after the idealism that produced the McCarthy insurgency, Brown said, "I see nasty, mean-spirited politics on all sides, the equivalent of the kind of scrum you see in the Chicago commodities pits."[25]

The Los Angeles Times reported that Brown and his wife Alison Teal raised about $800,000 for the Kerry campaign including about $300,000 in "ideological money" from the East Bay area.[26] Brown and his wife raise funds by hosting house parties for Kerry, seeking donations from strangers on the grocery line, and soliticiting from Teal's online blog.[26]


Brown is married to Alison Teal.[25] Brown met Teal in 1968 while Brown was a leader of the "Clean for Gene" McCarthy student movement.[25]

Brown lives in modernized log cabin on the shores of silvery Deer Lake 85 miles south of the Canadian border at International Falls.[25]

Brown said in 2004 that he once dreamed of being a senator.[25]

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Nomination of Sam W. Brown, Jr., for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as Head of Delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe." May 24, 1999.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 New York Times. "Moratorium Organizer: Samuel Winfred Brown Jr." by David E. Rosenbaum. October 16, 1969.
  3. Campus Watch. "The National Student Association Scandal" by Phil Agee, Jr. Fall 1991, pp. 12-13.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 The War Within: America's Battle Over Vietnam By Tom Wells. Published by iUniverse, 2005. ISBN 0595343961, 9780595343966
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 The War Within by Tom Wells. Published by iUniverse, 2005 ISBN 0595343961 p 225
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Huffington Post. "Arriving in Denver" by Alison Teal. August 22, 2008.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 New York Times. "the Moratorium Organizers: Cluttered Precision" by David E. Rosenbaum. October 9, 1969.
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 [New York Times. "Moratorium Group to Disband; Says Public s Tired of Protest" by by David E. Rosenbaum. April 19, 1970.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 Storefront Organizing: A Mornin' Glories' Manual By Sam Brown. Published by Pyramid Books, 1972. ISBN 0515028185, 9780515028188
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Webster University. "CAROLYN ROBERTSON PAYTON" (1925 - 2001).
  11. New York Times. "Nixon Submits Plan to Merge 9 Volunteer Programs" by Jack Rosenthal. March 24, 1971.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 ''All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman. Published by Harvard University Press, 1998 ISBN 0674003802, 9780674003804
  13. 13.0 13.1 103d Congress. "BROWN NOMINATION/CSCE Ambassador" May 24, 1994.
  14. 14.0 14.1 New York Times. "Peace Corps autonomy in Sight, Marking 20th Anniversary." June 20, 1981
  15. 15.0 15.1 [ The American Presidency Project. Executive Order 12137 - Peace Corps May 16, 1979.]
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 Action Update. "Peace Corps/New Directions" by Sam Brown. December 8, 1978.
  17. 17.0 17.1 The Peace corps Experience By P. David Searles. Published by University Press of Kentucky, 1997 ISBN 0813120098, 9780813120096
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 International Herald Tribune. "Q&A: U.S. and Russian Differences on European Stability" by Joseph Fitchett. October 10, 1994.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 New York Times. " The Vietnam Generation Surrenders Its Certainty" by Jane Gross. January 15, 1991.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2,9171,980865,00.html Time Magazine. "The Public Eye" by Margaret Carlson. June 6, 1994.]
  21. The Washington Post. "Deadlock Prevails In Senate; Sam Brown Backers Fail to End Debate" by Helen Dewar. May 26, 1994.
  22. Obama Biden. "Calling Out The "Monster"? Hey Wait, That's My Job!" by Mark Wiznitzer. March 7, 2008.
  23. Newecon. "Who's Who in Codes-of-Conduct?" by William A. Douglas. January 2, 2001.
  24. Template:Citation
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 25.5 25.6 New York Times. "Minnesota Returns to a Star Role on National Stage" by R. W. Apple, Jr. September 19, 2004.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Los Angeles Times. "California Helps Kerry Set Fundraising Records" by Lisa getter. August 11, 2004.