Former PAISD superintendent receives award from UT summit

Published 12:23 am Saturday, January 18, 2020

Dr. Johnny Brown was raised at a location in Austin where the University of Texas’ UFCU Disch-Falk Baseball Field is currently located — 1908 Emerson St.

From there, Brown became basketball team captain at the original L.C. Anderson High School and made history by earning a scholarship to Southwest Texas State University. He became the first African American athlete for any intercollegiate athletic program at the San Marcos school, now known as Texas State University.

“My house was taken by what was called at that time ‘urban renewal,’” said Brown, who is writing a book about his childhood experiences on Emerson Street. “Now, they call it gentrification. … Of course, at that time, they would not give sufficient resources to move to a house that was comparable to the house we lived in.”

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Following a distinguished career as a coach and school administrator, including seven years helming the Port Arthur Independent School District, Brown received a Legacy Achievement Award from the University of Texas’ Black Student Athlete Summit, held last week.

“I am honored and pleased to be selected,” said Brown, 71, PAISD’s superintendent from 2006-13. “I’m so honored because I believe that I have contributed for making the world a better place through my participation in athletics and then beyond as a coach and a leader. Even in leadership positions I’ve held — deputy principal, deputy superintendent and superintendent — I consider myself a civil rights/human rights leader through education.”

Brown made more history following graduation from Southwest Texas State in 1970. After serving as a teacher and coach for three years, Brown became the first head varsity basketball coach at the present L.C. Anderson High and earned a coach of the year award in Anderson’s athletic district.

In 1979, Brown embarked on an administrative career as an assistant principal and principal in the Austin ISD. Having earned his doctorate from UT in 1991, he was deputy superintendent in the Cleveland, Ohio, and Houston school districts before taking his first superintendent role in the Wilmer-Hutchins ISD in 1996. That led to stints in the Birmingham, Ala., DeKalb County, Ga., and Port Arthur districts.

Today, Brown is field supervisor for Lamar University’s superintendent certification program. Among other civic organizations, Brown helps with the Prairie View Interscholastic Coaches Association and the Port Arthur chapter of Rotary International.

“I believe strongly in doing what I can as a human being to help make quality of life better for other people,” Brown said. “[PVILCA] exists to keep the history alive about positive things that happened during times of segregated schools. Through my association with that organization, I have been on a panel for the Black Student Athlete Summit.”

The purpose of the annual summit is to bring athletes, educators and African American leaders together to lead discussions on issues facing black athletes on college campuses. The theme for the 2020 event was “The Mental Health of the Black Student-Athlete.”

“I’m proud of the accomplishments in my work, but I am equally proud of the accomplishments for the work I’ve done in helping other people,” Brown said.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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