Retired Baptist preacher and decorated war veteran Pastor Matthew Southall Brown Sr. is celebrated and recalled this weekend in Savannah, Georgia. Brown died late last month of natural causes. He was 99 years old.
Brown was a member of the 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, Company E, a separate support unit. He was among the first African Americans to desegregate the army and fight in World War II. He won the Good Conduct Medal, the WWII Victory Medal, as well as an American Theater Ribbon, among other commendations.
“He was in (…) a designated regiment of black African American soldiers who were called in to help in the Battle of the Bulge, so there was a big story there,” said his son, Matthew Southall Brown. Jr., on the local TV station. OMCC.
“Their ranks were taken away from them because they couldn’t outperform the white soldiers, so it all had a particular peak in his desire to ensure that the wrongs were righted and justice prevailed,” he said. declared.
After the war, Brown Sr. attended Georgia State College and received a BA in Divinity from American Baptist College in Nashville.
Brown has also been involved in civil rights work in his hometown of Savannah. Several decades before Juneteenth became a federal holiday, he participated in the annual Emancipation Day parades as a boy.
To local religious leaders, Brown was the “pastor’s pastor.” He retired as Pastor Emeritus of St. John Baptist Church after 35 years in 2004, and hosted “Thought for the Day,” a local morning radio show. The National Baptist Convention recognized Brown in 2013 for his more than 50 years of service.
US Senator Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Had a close relationship with Brown.
“As a child of Savannah, I join with many others in mourning the loss and celebrating the life of Savannah’s oldest pastor, the Rev. Matthew Southall Brown. He was to me a mentor, a father and a brilliant example of a pastor whose ministry went well beyond the walls of his church ”, tweeted Senator Warnock, who is also senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the church once headed by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
As a child of Savannah, I join with many others in mourning the loss and celebrating the life of Savannah’s oldest pastor, the Reverend Matthew Southall Brown.
He was to me a mentor, a father and a shining example of a pastor whose ministry extended far beyond the walls of his church. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/evf1iBEkZx
– Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (@SenatorWarnock) 22 November 2021
In an interview with WSAV, Warnock spoke about Brown’s accomplishments as a minister, activist and war veteran.
“Given his generation, he remembered a time when it was really difficult, especially for blacks,” said the senator. “He had seen Jim Crow’s segregation but he was never bitter about it. He was a patriot, he served in the armed forces but he also served in the Lord’s nonviolent army.”
In August 2019, Brown and members of his family attended the kick off of a “one year national celebration of gratitude and remembrance in the town of Ternuzen, Belgium” for veterans of the Second World War, according to Leonard Brown, the pastor’s son.
According to Leonard Brown, seven veterans were invited from Poland, France, England, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States. Pastor Brown was the only African American veteran there, and he met and spoke with heads of state, high officials in The Hague, ambassadors and “curious children.”
Last year, City of Savannah officials declared July 16 – Brown’s 98th birthday – an official day in his honor. Residents walked past his home with their greetings as he sat in a rocking chair welcoming passers-by from his porch.
“I had a good lap. I had 98 wonderful years. Ninety-nine and a half years would not be enough, I’m expecting 100”, he told OMCC, with a to smile.
Savannah Mayor Van R. Johnson made a statement shortly after Brown’s death.
“To many of us,” the mayor wrote on Facebook, “he was a spiritual father, mentor, confidant, promoter and pioneer. His branches are too numerous to count, and loss to our community is huge. ”
Brown Sr. is survived by his four children, Maxine Jones, Leonard Brown, Christa Stephens and Matthew Southall Brown Jr.