By Vivian Shipe
KNOXVILLE, TN — “We are a friend of Justice.” Those are the words of Reverend Sam Brown, newly elected President of the Knoxville NAACP. The Knoxville Chapter celebrated its 100 year anniversary in 2019 and one year later has elected its youngest president. Those who know him would tell you like Paul said of Timothy, not to disparage his age for he is more than qualified to lead the organization. which has grown to over 200 members over the last year.
Rev. Brown, who pastors Logan Temple AME Zion Church has long been an activist in Knoxville. During town hall meetings about affordable housing held across Knoxville in 2017, he was a strong panelist and had definite suggestions about how to best meet the needs of the people; among his suggestions were proactive actions be taken to squash negative tactics of NIMBY (Not in my back yard) used to promote fear of living among those different from yourself and his belief that the church needs to take a stronger lead in the housing situation by creating housing using the lands and buildings owned by churches.
A man of action, his desire to fight for change, especially in the area of education, led him to make a run for Senator in the last election. Brown has stated repeatedly in the past about the need to hear the needs of the community as he feels living in a community is not just about property. Over the last few years he has held information meetings at the church and brought in leaders or organizations to inform the church and community about important issues. Always forward thinking, Rev. Brown also understood the importance of the 2020 census and knew of the undercounting of African Americans as in the 2010 census would lead to loss of needed federal funds. To increase the count in one of the most undercounted areas of the city, (his church lies in that zip code) Rev. Brown allowed census workers to set up after church on Sundays to count those coming into the area for drive thru events the church was holding due to COVID-19. His and other community leaders efforts resulted in the count in that zip code rise over 13 percent by the time the count was ended prematurely in early October.
The pastor in him reminds us to care for the least of us; the activist in him will work to see that manifest.