Reverend Henry Brown
Reverend Brown’s special dedication to ending gun violence began on a January night in 1972 in rural Cusseta, Ga. He was celebrating his discharge that day from the U.S. Army with family members in a nightclub when he went outside to break up a dispute in the parking lot. He thought everything was settled and went back into the club to join his family. He started to sit down when he saw a flash, and realized that the argument wasn’t over. After a month in a coma, his way of thinking was changed. On the negative side, he was angry, withdrawn, depressed, felt unloved and most of all scared. On the positive side, that shot was the beginning of a changed life, though he wouldn’t recognize how much until much later.
Reverend Brown was called to serve the Lord in September, 2001, as one of the founders of Hope Street ministry, after an act of violence in Hartford, Connecticut. Brown completed his Black Ministries course at Hartford Seminary in 2006 and was ordained the following year in the Heart of God Healing Center, Hartford. When he saw on the front page of the newspaper the bullet-wounded face of little seven-year-old Takira Gaston, an unintended victim of a rolling gunfight between rival drug dealers, he decided something had to be done.
Today Brown is known by many as the face of Mothers United Against Violence, an organization that resulted from his gathering a group of mothers recently bereaved by gun violence. They decided to form the organization in 2003, a year that saw homicides in Hartford increase to 46 almost twice the number of the previous year.
For more than ten years, Mothers United Against Violence continues to help families devastated by violence. Brown and the mothers visit with families who have experienced a homicide and, at the request of family members, arrange to hold a prayer vigil at the site. Each year since 2005, they have gathered to remember the fallen so that the names of their children are remembered and to work together to prevent other mothers and families from suffering the loss they feel.
Brown has spoken at the majority of the almost 300 sites of homicides since 2003, bringing families and community members a message of hope. By request of the families of those killed, they have organized hundreds of peace rallies and prayer vigils in the city at the sites of violent crimes. He has lead annual marches in Hartford each year from 2009 to the present. With members of the organization, he has provided presentations at assemblies at area schools offering orientation against gun violence to students. He has led delegations to the Office of the Mayor of Hartford on numerous occasions and maintains a vital dialogue with the Hartford Police Department, who provide police presence at vigils and marches.
Reverend Brown has been instrumental in forging relationships with organizations in other communities in the state who work for solutions to gun violence. He and mothers from the organization have given testimony before the state
legislature advocating action to end gun violence. In conjunction with his work with Mothers United Against Violence, Rev Brown is host of *Real Talk, *a weekly call-in show on Hartford Public Access TV to which he invites community activist, pastors, law enforcement and elected officials to offer commentary on the Hartford reality and solutions to the violence in the city.
Coming to Hartford in 1975, he worked for Pratt & Whitney for a while, returned to Georgia and then permanently moved back to Hartford in 1986. He was employed for over 2 decades with the U.S. Postal Service.