BROWN, RUSSELL S., REV. (31 Aug. 1889-Aug. 1981), pastor of MT. ZION CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH (1925-33), was elected to fill the unexpired term of THOMAS W. FLEMING on the CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL (1929). The first pastor and the second African American to serve on the council, he sat on the judiciary, finance, and steam RAILROADS committee. Brown was born to Bartlett and Alice Brown in London, Kentucky, the youngest of 11 children. The family moved to Kansas when he was 14. Brown attended public schools and Washburn College, Topeka, KS, and graduated from from Payne Theological Seminary (1915), Xenia, OH. He served churches in Butte, MT, Memphis, TN (1917-20), Atlanta, GA (1920-25), and Washington, DC, and, during WORLD WAR I, worked as a chaplain at Camp Funston, Kansas. Brown also served as jail chaplain (Fulton County, GA) and chaired a race relations committee on church cooperation (Atlanta) before coming to Cleveland.
At Mt. Zion, Brown directed a successful campaign to raise $50,000 to pay off church debts. Brown served on the executive committee of the Federated Churches (later INTERCHURCH COUNCIL OF GREATER CLEVELAND), presided over the local Congregational ministers' club, and chaired the Willson District of ASSOCIATED CHARITIES. A Republican who did not believe in mixing RELIGION and POLITICS, he reluctantly accepted the city council position and did not seek a second term. Brown left Mt. Zion in 1933 to take a pastorate in Denver, CO.
Brown married Floy Zxlema Smith of Oberlin, OH, on 24 June 1915; they had 3 children, Alice Elaine, Charles Shelton, and Russell, Jr.
View image at Cleveland Public Library
View photo gallery at Cleveland Public Library