HONORABLE CHARLES I. BROWN
Founder Brown is believed to have been born in Topeka, Kansas in 1890. Census records show that his father was the Reverend John M. Brown and that his mother was Maggie M. Brown. However, records at Howard University from 1910 have Founder Brown living at 1813 Titan Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
He was very cordial and very popular with the student body and Howard University administration. Founder Brown is credited with choosing the nine charter members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. In addition, he founded the Delta Chapter at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, on April 9, 1917, and was a teacher at the Kansas Industrial School for Negroes in Topeka, Kansas.
In the 1914 Howard University yearbook, under the Personals and Applied Quotations section, Founder Brown left us with this, “No legacy is so rich as honesty”. Founder Brown graduated from Howard University on June 3, 1914. The last correspondence that the fraternity received from him was a letter to Founder Taylor in 1924, in which Founder Brown indicated that he was teaching in Kansas.
Census records and oral interviews show that Founder Brown lived in the Topeka, Kansas area until 1931. Some believed that he was a casualty of the First World War; others thought that he moved overseas. In the spring of 1949, Founder Leonard F. Morse wrote: “We live in daily hope that we shall one day learn the fate of our beloved Brother and Founder”.
For more than 80 years, Sigma men pondered what may have happened with Founder Brown. It was hoped that he went on to live a productive and fruitful life – but the story of his disappearance and speculation about what may have happened became folklore within the brotherhood. In 2015, a breakthrough occurred. A group of Sigma men who were determined to find out what happened with Founder Brown, enlisted the help of professional researchers and with the full support of the Fraternity, were able to track Founder Brown to his final resting place. Indeed, he had kept his commitment to the cause of Sigma, living and serving his last years in a Catholic parish in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founder Charles Ignatius Brown kept his promise to his brothers in Sigma!
Honorable Founder Charles I. Brown
August 27, 1890 – December 21, 1981