Drewary J. Brown

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Drewary J. Brown (1918-1998) was a Charlottesville civil rights leader, community organizer, and “bridge builder.”


Brown grew up on Washington Street. His father was lynched when Brown was three years old.[1]

Brown fought in World War II, and returned to Charlottesville with the goal of improving his community for everyone. Brown emphasized unity between races, classes, and generations.

He died on April 5, 1998.[2]


At a City Council public hearing in October 1983, he spoke in favor of issuance of $9.5 million in bonds for the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority to pay a private developer for what would become the Omni Hotel. [3]


Along With Jay Worrall, Brown co-founded the Monticello Area Community Action Agency.[4] Brown also helped found the Central Virginia Opportunities Industrialization Council to educate and train the unemployed and underemployed.


Brown served as chair of the NAACP, as a member of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Jail Board, and on the City Police Review Board. The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce awarded Brown with the Paul Goodloe McIntire Citizenship Award in 1989.[5]

In 1998, the City Council also voted to name a bridge after Brown.[6] The Drewary J. Brown Bridge now crosses the railroad tracks on West Main Street.


Bridge Builder Awards

Additionally, Preservation Piedmontannually honors several “Bridge Builders” such as Brown with the Bridge Builder Award, who have worked to increase opportunities for all members of the community across lines of division. [7]

Frances Brand portrait

Brown is one of several people commemorated by the late 20th-century artist Frances Brand as part of her Firsts series.[8]

A portrait of Drewary Brown painted by Frances Brand.
A portrait of Drewary Brown painted by Frances Brand.
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External Links


  1. Web. From Porch Swings to Patios: Oral History Project - Interview of Drewary Brown on December 16, 1980, Department of Community Planning Advisory Board, retrieved August 1, 2022.
  2. Print: City activist Brown dies at 80, Michael Cardman, Daily Progress, Media General April 6, 1998, Page A1.
  3. Web. Charlottesville City Council meeting minutes, .pdf, Council Chambers, City of Charlottesville, October 24, 1983.
  4. Web. Drewary Brown, George Loper, Obituary, retrieved May 16, 2024.
  5. Web. Paul Goodloe McIntire Citizenship Award, Website, Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, retrieved May 16, 2024.
  6. Web. BridgeBuilders 2001-2016, Online Book, BridgeBuilders, retrieved May 16, 2024.
  7. Web. BridgeBuilders 2001–2016 Charlottesville, VA, Booklet, Preservation Piedmont, retrieved August 1, 2022.
  8. Branigan, Michelle Marie (December 1998). A Biography of Frances Brand, an American Painter and Social Activist (PhD). Indiana University.