Award ceremony precedes theatrical performance of Raisin A Musical
The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders will recognize Rahway Councilman David Brown with the eighth annual Chester Holmes Humanitarian Award during the County’s Black History Month celebration on Saturday, February 8th, 7 p.m. at the historic Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway.
The event begins at 7:00 p.m. and features Raisin A Musical, which is an adaptation of the landmark play, A Raisin in the Sun, which portrays a few weeks in the life of the Youngers, an African-American family living on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s. Raisin A Musical’s music is by Judd Woldin and lyrics by Robert Brittan. It is directed by Khy Garner, and conducted by Teddy Kernizan. The book is by Robert Nemiroff and Charlotte Zaltzberg. Raisin A Musical is presented through the combined sponsorship of the County of Union, City of Rahway, and the Union County Performing Arts Center.
“Councilman Brown has dedicated his life to public service and to assisting working families, youth and those less-advantaged through his various community endeavors,” said Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella. “His outstanding contributions to both his hometown of Rahway and Union County exemplify the true meaning and essence of the Chester Holmes Humanitarian Award.”
“David Brown has been a leader and an asset to the Rahway community for over 50 years and continues to bring tremendous energy to his many roles,” said Rahway Mayor Raymond Giacobbe. I could not be prouder to have served with him on Rahway’s City Council and, as Mayor, I continue to rely on his extensive knowledge, insight, and dedication to our City. He has positively impacted the lives of thousands of residents – especially our youth – and is well-deserving of this honor.”
“Councilman Brown has been a driving force, who has spoken truth to power, and defended the disenfranchised,” said Freeholder Rebecca Williams. “He has served his community honorably, and continues to be an active champion of progressive values.”
“Councilman Brown is an inspiration, and a beacon of light in the greater Rahway community,” said Freeholder Andrea Staten. “He’s had an enduring public service career that has spanned more than six decades, and he continues the good fight for equity and justice for all.”
“Councilman Brown has boundless energy and enthusiasm that has led to a long and distinguished career in both the private and public sectors,” said Freeholder Angela Garretson. “As a Councilman, his contributions as a servant has contributed to the transformative revitalization in Rahway and his work in neighborhoods and relationships with local leaders and community members is truly a part of his demonstrated success”
Mr. Brown has served as the Fourth Ward Councilman for the City of Rahway for the past 24 years.
For decades prior to holding elected office, Mr. Brown helped lead the Rahway Community Action Organization, which is centered out of the John F. Kennedy Center on E. Hazelwood Avenue. Founded in 1967 by Mr. Brown’s brother, Charles, the Rahway Community Action Organization is one of the oldest community-based, non-profit organizations serving Union County families. The organization’s focus is on early childhood learning, family strengthening and senior services.
As a result of Mr. Brown’s efforts in collaboration with the City administration and the County of Union, the building currently houses a Union County Family Success Center, which is a community-based gathering spot where any resident can go for family support, information and services.
As a Councilman, Mr. Brown has worked to shepherd along improvements that have led to Rahway’s revitalization, including major investments in the Downtown area, which has resulted over the past few decades in the renovated Union County Arts Center, a new library complex, new Train station, plaza area, new housing and apartments, and an explosion of restaurants and art places.
During this time, the City has witnessed a renaissance in its neighborhoods, and many public facilities have been either newly built or renovated.
Professionally, Mr. Brown ran his own Rahway-based business, D and S Systems Distribution—a clean room and equipment accessories company—for more than two decades before selling it.
Mr. Brown’s inspiration for a life in public service began in the early ‘60s, under the tutelage of Lilian Wilder, the Rahway NAACP Youth Council advisor. Soon after joining the local chapter of the NAACP, the venerable organization that championed civil rights, Mr. Brown held the same position of his longtime mentor once his peers elected him Youth Council advisor. With unmatched enthusiasm, he counseled a new generation of African Americans on the principles of civic duty.
Thirty years later, Mr. Brown received the NAACP Hall of Fame Award in 1992, for his years of distinguished service. Mr. Brown understood the transformative power of leadership. The skills he acquired while working with the NAACP provided a unique vantage point in the legislative process.
In 1996, Mr. Brown was elected 4the Ward Councilman within the City of Rahway. This victory was special for him because he moved to the 4the Ward with his parents after he was raised on the family farm on Randolph Avenue in nearby Avenel. His parents Willie and Mable were sharecroppers and they instinctively taught their youngest son David to help others in need.
As Councilman, Mr. Brown has served as Vice Chair and Chairman of the Union County Community Development Revenue Sharing Committee. He has been instrumental in the R.C.A.O. (Rahway Community Action Organization) receiving $890,000 in funding, and the City of Rahway a total over $15 million in funds for the Home Improvement Program, street resurfacing, senior citizen programs, and improvements to Madden Field, Brennan Field, and all the playgrounds within the city.
Mr. Brown is a Trustee at the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, and a Right Worshipful Past Master of the MOAB Masonic Lodge #70 in Rahway. He is a member of the Rahway Retirements Club.
Mr. Brown has two daughters, Dana and Jay-Me.
The Humanitarian Award was created by the Freeholder Board in honor of the late former Freeholder Chester Holmes, who was known for his lifelong dedication to community service. Mr. Brown is the first resident of Rahway to receive the award.
This event will take place at the historic UCPAC Main Stage at 1601 Irving Street in Rahway, as part of a month-long celebration of Union County programming in recognition of Black History Month.
Admission is free but tickets are required to guarantee seating. For ticket information, contact the Box Office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 732-499-8226.