Tampa advocate for prisoners is honored with post office naming

04/09/13 Janelle Irwin
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A long-time community leader’s memory is being honored by naming a post office after him. More than 100 Tampa residents watched as a plaque with Abe Brown’s name on it was unveiled Tuesday at the post office on East Hillsborough Ave.

Abe Brown was a winning coach, beloved educator and founder of Prison Crusade Ministries. Brown founded what is now Abe Brown Ministries after a former player he coached was charged with murder. His family says he realized that he taught kids how to play football, but not how to live life. Robert Blount now serves as the president of that organization.

“In addition to the core services like crusades into prisons, transporting families to visit their incarcerated loved ones, distributing food to food insecure households. We are connecting children with their incarcerated mothers through live video visitation. We are pursuing federal funds to adequately organize and resource the ‘It’s Your Move’ mentoring program for both male and female citizens who are returning from prison. With some initial capital investment from the state of Florida this fall we hope to launch ‘Ready for Work Hillsborough’ which is a nationally recognized re-entry workforce and development program for citizens returning from incarceration.”

Brown also served as the dean of Chamberlain High School where U.S. Representative Kathy Castor attended school. Castor, along with fellow Florida Democrat, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, introduced the bill that was passed unanimously in both chambers to rename the post office in Brown’s honor.

“He was the embodiment of moral authority and I will never forget – you probably don’t believe this, but I was sent to the dean’s office at some point … and you would sit down across from his desk and he wouldn’t have to say very much at all. He would kind of – he’s a little bit larger and he would just kind of look down at you as a student with those eyes and they would just pierce right through you. I don’t think I did anything wrong, but I think by the end of the meeting I had confessed, and apologized and swore I would never, ever, ever get in trouble again in my life.”

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn remembered Brown not just for his service, but for his friendship.

“Abe Brown touched a lot of lives and we are grateful for it. This city is better because of it and today we get to honor one of our best.”

Due to federal regulations, a permanent marker can’t be placed on the post office structure. Instead, a white decal with Brown’s name has been placed on the post office window. Brown’s family has also gotten permission to install a metal bust of Brown in front of the building with the plaque that was unveiled Tuesday. Brown’s wife Altamese said the honor means the world to her.

“I miss him. I still miss him although he was gone all the time and he was a good husband.”

Brown’s family and Abe Brown Ministries are still trying to raise money to make the bust. More information is on their website, abe brown dot org.

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