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Newport News Now

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Newport News Now is a daily e-newsletter that launched in March 2016. Articles that ran in our newsletter between March 2016 and March 2018 are available on these pages. Newsletters produced beginning in April 2018 can be viewed on our new daily newsletter page.

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Mar 08

Women’s History Series- Carrie Riggins Brown

Posted on March 8, 2017 at 8:56 AM by Communications Department

Carrie Riggins Brown spent her life in service to others. Born September 13, 1912 in Vienna, Georgia, she came to Hampton in 1932 to attend Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She’d go on to teach in Newport News where she would live for 61 years. During her 41-year career, she taught at John Marshall, Booker T. Washington, and Saunders elementary.

She was a dedicated, visionary educator, a community activist extraordinaire, and a philanthropist who used her resources for the uplifting of people. She was a member of local, state, and national education associations and held offices at each level. She served as president of the Newport News Teachers’ Association and editor of the Newport News Teachers’ Quarterly. She was a life member of the National Education Association (NEA) and in 1963 became the first African American to be elected to its board. She also served on the NEA’s first Planning Committee on Faculty Desegregation. After her retirement in 1977, she became affiliated with the Retired Teachers’ Association and its tutorial services. The Newport News City Council appointed her to numerous boards, including: the Library Board of Trustees, the Historical Committee, the Arts Commission, the Clean Community Commission, the Public Schools Planning Council, and the Parks & Recreation Community Liaison.

In 1977, Brown and her husband organized Newsome House, Inc. It was their fervent wish to pay tribute to the life and accomplishments of attorney J. Thomas Newsome by having his home preserved as a museum. She served as foundation president from 1978-97, purchased the house from the Newsome heir, and lobbied the City of Newport News to restore it. Under the auspices of the Newport News Historical Committee the project was launched in the late 1980s and in 1991 The Newsome House Museum & Cultural CencBrownHome_SCter was complete. Brown was on hand to make remarks to a crowd of over 3,000 persons. In her last will and testament, Brown made provisions for the museum by bestowing her entire estate to the administration of the foundation’s board of directors. Her home was left to be used as an educational center and on June 12, 2002, the Cornelius & Carrie R. Brown Educational Center was dedicated.

Photo courtesy of: Douglas W. Reynolds, Jr.