Jump to Navigation

Lawrence Brown

Lawrence Brown

Tuskegee Airman and North Minneapolis Native

Born: Minneapolis, MN, United States
Heritage: African American

First of all, listen to your parents and listen to your teachers. Respect first of all yourself. You have to respect yourself first. When you do you, then you demand respect for the other guy. You can’t say he’s wrong when you can’t say that about yourself.

Lawrence Brown

Tuskegee Airman and North Minneapolis Native

My name is Lawrence A. Brown. I was born in General Hospital about thirty blocks from here. I was born September 7, 1919. I’m 88 years old. Seventy-five years ago I was in class like you. I went to every school in North Minneapolis: Blaine, Franklin Junior High, Sumner, Lincoln and North High School. I also went to the University of Minnesota, Mankato State and Metro State. I’m a public school advocate. I fell in love with school at five years old.

They drafted me and told me if I go to the base I would go to the Tuskegee Air Corps. My brother was a Tuskegee Airman. He was captive, a prisoner of war. It was a happy time for us when he came home. I’m also considered a Tuskegee Airman. I’m one of them. I’m not a flyer. I’m the grunt who kept them flying. For every guy to keep him flying there is ten guys.

What service does is you are brought into a homogenized area. When I was a kid, milk was delivered in a quart bottle. There was skim milk at the bottom and cream at the top. Now the milk is homogenized with cream and milk together. This is what happens in the service. You have no choice of who is next to you. You must remember this guy on either side is the one to protect you and he feels the same as you.

Let me tell you about living in north Minneapolis. Education was a big thing. Most of the families where I lived, I guess you call them immigrants. I learned to appreciate the diversity there. I can see a lot of it right here. This is what the world is about.

I became a tax agent. I hope you don’t dislike me for that. The State Department was looking for guys to go overseas to teach the people in Kenya and Tanzania the American tax system. I spent two years there with my wife and kids. We came back and finished at the University with our kids.

We lost our second child to leukemia. The same drugs that they used for our daughter are being used now and the cure rate is now about 90%. Leukemia is cancer of the blood. At that time, that was 1962, it was very difficult because the doctor said there is no cure. We finally found a doctor who had new medication. The disease was at bay. After three months the leukemia returned.

I was one of the founders of the Ronald McDonald House in the early 70’s. Because my daughter was ill, I set up the Ronald McDonald House. If a guy didn’t have money to pay for medication I would help them out.

Notation: Download PDF

Freedom, Freedom Over Me!

Honoring Lawrence Brown

When I was young I’d like to fight
With my brother day and night
If we did something wrong
We did our best to not tell mom
Freedom, Freedom Over Me!

Hungarians, Poles, and Jews
Ukranians, Finns, and black folk too
All lived together on the same block
That’s where we learned to box
Freedom, Freedom Over Me!

My first job was a soda jerk
In a drug store that’s where I worked
Growing up on the north side
No better school than North High
Freedom, Freedom Over Me!

Enlisted in World War II
Became a part of the
Tuskegee Air crew
Got blown up almost died
Lost so many good friends of mine
Freedom, Freedom Over Me!

My brother was a prisoner of war
Wasn’t sure if we’d see him anymore
It sure was a happy time
For Mom when we came home alive
Freedom, Freedom Over Me!

Went to college, got married
There’s one thing I believe
Don’t spank your kids
It hurts both ways
A time out hurts but there’s no pain
Freedom, Freedom Over Me!

When my daughter became deathly ill
It still haunts me still
Out of bad sometimes comes good
When we each do what we should
Freedom, Freedom Over Me!

Before she died one thing I found
Parents of sick kids from out of town
Slept on a bench, chair or couch
So we started the
Ronald McDonald House
Freedom, Freedom Over Me!

Now together with my friends
We volunteer. We mentor kids
There’s nothing you can’t do
Respect yourself and others too
Freedom, Freedom Over Me!

Music by Larry Long. Words by Larry Long with Mrs. Adam’s fourth grade class of Cityview Elementary School. (Minneapolis, Minnesota.)

© Larry Long 2008 / BMI