Former U.S Rep. Corrine Brown was sentenced to five years in federal prison after recently being convicted of 18 crimes ranging from fraud to conspiracy in stealing money for a fake charity.
Brown is a prominent Florida A&M University (FAMU) alumna who has helped direct millions of dollars in federal funds for projects that have benefited minority communities Jacksonville. There has been considerable controversy in regard to Brown’s conviction and sentence as well as what’s to come for Brown.
According to WJCT, Brown was said to have taken $833,000 from donors to fund a charity, One Door for Education, which was supposed to be used for scholarship money. Only $1,200 of those funds was awarded to students.
Brown has served in the U.S. House of Representatives for more than 20 years, and was elected to U.S. Congress 12 times.
During her tenure in Washington, she has been a force for the Jacksonville region. She has also been a voice for social justice, railing against police brutality, particularly as it affects young men of color. But has Brown’s recent conviction stained her entire career? Moreover, has it brought a certain dishonor to her alma mater?
FAMU’s mission includes fiscal responsibility, accountability, integrity and respect. There are mixed reviews concerning the recent events and Brown’s actions in the House of Representatives. As a FAMU alumna, these are values that should’ve been upheld.
Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor, who also teaches at FAMU, said, “There’s no direct correlation between Brown and FAMU.” Proctor also explained that, “FAMU guides to leadership and gave her many lessons in being a positive servant. FAMU doesn’t teach negative behavior of things, so it cannot correlate.”
Kaitlin Haynes, a third-year English education major from Jacksonville, feels that Brown’s recent sentencing has nothing to do with FAMU and does not reflect on the university at all.
“I don’t think this reflects on FAMU at all and honestly, she graduated from University of Florida. Did anyone from UF get asked about Brown?”
As an African American it is important to always consider ramifications because in the political world there is not enough black representation, especially as an African American woman.
“You have a target on your back as a black person, she’s been involved in congress for a very long time so she knew what she was getting herself into”, said Haynes.
According to Daryl Scriven, an associate professor of philosophy at FAMU, “We produce graduates that go on to prominence. It’s never a good look when one of your esteemed alumni come under scrutiny, has a fall from grace, and is getting taken down in the media.”
Nevertheless, he added, we should take into consideration everything that she has contributed to the African American community.
Brown had been in the House of Representative for years, being an advocate for African Americans, bringing awareness to social unjust and police brutality. To define her career after this one incident and to administer her as an unforgiving criminal is not accurate or fair.
“This is a public servant who has been in the game for a long time and to just treat her as if all she was doing was cheating people for her entire career seems to be a mischaracterization of her body of work.” Scriven said.
Proctor said that we can’t forget Brown’s “outstanding public career, FAMU is reflected in that positivity.”