A pair of tragedies in TROY alumna Barbara Brown’s life inspired her to make a difference in the lives of others.
Brown, who received her Master of Science in counseling from Troy University in 1997, is the mother of two murdered sons. Her son Brandon was killed June 30, 1993, at the age of 19, and her son Horace was killed on Sept. 4, 1994.
Their deaths inspire her in her work with crime victims.
“I got involved with trying to solve their murders because the murders, at this point, are unsolved,” Brown said. “So, during the process of trying to solve their murders, I found out that there are so many other mothers out there dealing with the same thing, so I got involved.”
Brown’s passion led her to create a support group in her hometown of Selma for those who have lost loved ones to violent crime. The group meets once a month.
The support group isn’t the only thing Brown is doing to help crime victims.
Brown was appointed as a commissioner of the Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission for a four-year term in November 1996 by Gov. Fob James. Brown was then appointed to subsequent four-year terms by Gov. Don Siegelman in 2001 and Gov. Bob Riley in 2004 and 2009.
The Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission was passed by the Alabama Legislature in 1984 and provides the only substantial compensation to victims of crime.
“That has provided me with the opportunity to keep helping people,” Brown said. “It gives me the opportunity to view the crimes in the state and decide if these people are eligible for financial compensation.”
Brown said the commission provides compensation to victims of murder, domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as other types of victimization.
Brown is also a member of a group that received grants from the state to help Dallas County and Selma City schools to work with students and help communities. The group works to help students prepare for and pass the high school graduation exam.
Brown’s efforts to raise awareness about violence go beyond her work within the state. She was a part of a group that successfully lobbied in Washington, D.C. in 2001, to have April 4 designated as National Anti-Murder Awareness Day and have the Purple Ribbon adopted as the national symbol against violence.
Brown helps to send purple ribbons out to places where a murder has taken place.
“We’ve gotten it recognized by the Senate and House of Representatives in Washington and right now we’ve written a letter to President Obama, and we want him to sign a proclamation,” Brown said. “When people see the pink ribbon, they know it stands for Breast Cancer Awareness. We want people to think violence awareness when they see the purple ribbon.”
Brown said that her education from TROY has helped give her these opportunities.
“Without that I don’t feel I would have been able to be as mobile and to do certain things,” she said. “Troy University was here in the community and available to me and I was able to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Hudson, a 2011 journalism graduate from Mobile, served as a Foundation Scholar writer for the Office of University Relations during the 2010-2011 academic year.
Incidents of violent crime
- 20,167 incidents of violent crime were reported statewide in Alabama in 2009, including 318 homicides, 1,428 rapes, 6052 robberies and 12,369 aggravated assaults.
- 35 percent of those cases involving violent crimes have been cleared.
- Violent crime makes up 11 percent of the total offenses.
- On the average, there were 55.3 violent crimes reported per day in 2009.
- The age group with the greatest number of homicide victims was 20-30, comprising 37 percent of the homicide victims.
- Handguns were used in 61 percent of all homicides; other firearms such as rifles and shotguns in 10 percent, knives in 9 percent, hands, fists or feet in 6 percent.
Source: Alabama Criminal Justice Center