Man of Reknown
Name: Lester Brown
District: West Philadelphia; Mantua through Powelton. 3rd Councilmanic.
have retired from his day job, but 24th Democratic Ward leader
Lester Brown doesn’t see himself manning his garden or hitting balls on the golf
course during his retirement.
His spare time will spent in his beloved 24th Democratic Ward.
Brown, 75, retired as Chief of Staff for Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell’s City
Hall office this month, he said he’s “taking his work ethic into his ward.”
“City Hall room 484 is my mistress. When you work in that room you do nothing
else,” Brown said. “You take your entire work home with you. I will be doing a
similar job, but working from my home helping my ward now that I’m retired.”
It’s safe to say Lester Brown is a workaholic when it comes to constituent
His ward headquarters are located at his home in West Philadelphia.
“I may be retiring from City Hall, but I am not retiring from my ward, added
Brown. “There is too much to do. I’m excited to be putting more time and effort
in to my ward.”
Brown’s 24th Ward has 17 divisions from Mantua to Powelton.
He’s been its leader for six years, replacing Nate Daniel Clark in 1999.
He was a committeeperson for Clark for 15 years.
He said, “Committee people are not as committed as they once were. You have to
encourage them a lot more. It’s tougher to get them on the street and knocking
on doors. But we manage to get things done in the 24th.
Before becoming Jannie Blackwell’s chief of staff, Brown worked for Lucien
“You cannot work for Lucien Blackwell and not learn from him. He was a great
leader. A real constituent servant. He taught me a lot,” said Brown, who
graduated from Georgia State with a degree in communications.
A former journalist, he was the first African-American publicist on Broadway!
Broadway media wasn’t the only first in Lester Brown’s career.
Fittingly, these firsts were called to the attention of his co-workers at City
Hall, when a proclamation introduced in City Council was read by its sponsor
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell recently.
The reading marked the end of 18 years of City Council service for the
Democratic ward veteran.
Brown was born during the 1920’s near Savannah, GA., where he learned the harsh
racist reality of Jim Crow laws. He survived that period to begin his career in
journalism at the early age of 16. He became the first black youth to host a
radio show called “Negro History,” which aired on WTOC, a CBS affiliate. Later
he moved to New York where he worked as a reporter for the Ban Black Audio News,
then on Broadway.
During the 70’s he began his career in community service working as a youth
organizer for the Parents Union in the Philadelphia Public Schools and
reorganized the Student Union. He then became a board member of the ASPIRA
Advisory Council. In 1979 he taught Community Organizing at Temple University.
In the 80’s, he became the executive director of Mantua Community Planners, and
during that tenure donated nine houses to members of that community through the
Remove Blight Program.
Brown says he would like to teach people how to use the new electronic voting
machines, because his constituents have trouble working the machines.
He said, “People cannot operate the machines properly and we get zeros at the
end of our vote counts. I have to wait for a count from Delaware Ave. I
encourage people to go to the election seminars. If not, it’s on cable
television, too. I go and tell every Election Board member about these
When Lester Brown relaxes he finds himself listening to his favorite music…jazz.
Brown is a regular at the Zanzibar Blue jazz club.
He estimates it costs “about $10,000 at least or more” to run his ward on
He is planning a fundraiser leading up to the General Election in November.
His 18 years as Chief of Staff for Councilwoman Blackwell has earned him “the
admiration and respect of everyone in city government.” Councilwoman Blackwell
noted, “His presence will be sorely missed.”
Good news for his ward constituents who will see more of him now he’s retired.
“I have no intention of steeping down as ward leader.”
Expect Lester Brown to jazz up his ward now that he has the spare time. Brown
will seek re-election in 2006.