For the tax protester, see Edward and Elaine Brown.

Elaine Brown (born March 2, 1943 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American prison activist, writer, and singer; she is a former chairperson of the Black Panther Party. Brown has declared her candidacy for the Green Party presidential nomination in 2008.[1] She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia and is a founder of Mothers Advocating Juvenile Justice.

On December 28, 2007, Elaine Brown renounced her affiliation with the Green Party and her bid for Presidency. [2]


Brown grew up in poverty in North Philadelphia. She attended the Philadelphia High School for Girls, the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, and, briefly, Temple University. At this time, she became interested in radical politics and began working for the radical newspaper Harambee.[3] At 22, Elaine moved to Los Angeles alone to pursue a career in music and eventually became the first representative of the Black Student Alliance to the Black Congress.

In 1967, she joined the Black Panther Party. Her initial role was selling Party newspapers; she eventually assumes the role of editor. In 1971, Brown became the first female member of the Party's Central Committee as Minister of Information. She was chairperson of the party from 1974 until it disbanded in 1977. She was personally appointed by Huey Newton, the previous president and founder of the party. In her 1992 memoir A Taste of Power, she wrote about this experience:

A woman in the Black Power movement was considered, at best, irrelevant. A woman asserting herself was a pariah. If a black woman assumed a role of leadership, she was said to be eroding black manhood, to be hindering the progress of the black race. She was an enemy of the black people.... I knew I had to muster something mighty to manage the Black Panther Party.[4]

Brown unsuccessfully ran for the Oakland city council in 1973. Former Black Panther associate, David Horowitz, has accused Brown of ordering the murder of Betty Van Patter, a Black Panther Party accountant, in 1974.[5] Horowitz alleges that Van Patter intended to go public with illegalities she had uncovered in the Black Panthers' account books, and that Brown had Van Patter murdered because these allegations would have hindered Brown's city council bid.[6][7]

Brown recorded two albums, Seize the Time! (Vault, 1969) and Elaine Brown (Motown Records, 1973).[8] Seize the Time includes "The Meeting," the national anthem of the Black Panther Party.

From 1990 to 1996, she lived in France.[9] In 2005, she was a Green Party candidate for Mayor of Brunswick, Georgia but was disqualified from running and voting in Brunswick because she failed to establish residency in the city.[10][11]

Besides A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story (Doubleday, 1992), Brown is the author of The Condemnation of Little B: New Age Racism in America (Beacon, 2002). In an appendix to the latter book, Brown labels many Black leaders and celebrities, including Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, Chris Rock, Russell Simmons, Sean "Diddy" Combs, and Oprah Winfrey, as "New Age House Negroes" and "New Age House Negresses."[12]

Brown is the mother of a grown daughter, Ericka Abram.


  • Brown, Elaine. The Condemnation of Little B: New Age Racism in America. (Boston: Beacon, 2002).
  • Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story. (New York: Doubleday, 1992).

Further readingEdit



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