Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown, 75, was a leader in the Civil Rights movement as a teenager, and one of the eight students Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught at Morehouse College. He has loaned two of his books to the museum, and they are both on display — the original edition of “the First History of the Negro Race” and the Bible he used while he was a young man in the civil rights movement.
“Those two books informed and inspired all of my decisions during my civil rights activism,” he said. He was carrying the letter he received from museum director Lonnie Bunch asking him for the donation. He decided to loan them for seven years.
“These books are too precious,” he said, though he expects that after the seven-year loan is up, he will donate them.
Seeing the exhibitions has been overwhelming. “I almost pinched myself that I was still alive,” he said. “I didn’t realize as a youth the dangers I was in.”
That included a stint in jail after he told a doctor in his native Jackson Mississippi to stop referring to an 81-year old black patient as “boy.”
He was arrested and imprisoned for two days. Medgar Evers bailed him out, he said.
He called the president’s remarks “very deliberative and eloquent, tender and touching.”
When he came to the museum today, he didn’t know where exactly his artifacts were.
“It was my [2-year-old] grandson who broke away from his mother, he found it,” he said, referring to one of his books. Standing before glass cases that contained his own artifacts, “I felt overwhelmed, to think I lived to see this day and my involvement would be recorded and on display.”
He took photos of his name on the display cases. To see the history of people he knew well – civil rights leaders that many people know only in textbooks – in the museum “gives me an added incentive as long as I have breath in my body, to share with every young person who is not aware of our rich history, all that I know.”