The Black Family: representation, identity and diversity.
The theme for Black History Month 2021 fits nicely with a search being conducted by Warren County’s Black History Museum.
“I have been trying to locate relatives of Robert “Buck” Brown who live in Warren County,” said museum curator Wayne Wolford. “If he has any relatives who still live here, I’d like to talk to them.”
According to Brown’s biography, the cartoonist and painter was born Bobby Brown on Feb. 3, 1936 in the Browntown suburb of Morrison. The area was called Browntown, said Wolford, due to it being a predominately black community.
Brown’s parents, Michael Brown and Doris Lemmings Brown, had a farm in the community, but they split when he was very young. His mother moved him to the South Side of Chicago, Illinois at the age of 5.
Brown’s interest in drawing came from a truck that was drawn on the blackboard of his brother’s school.
Brown adopted the name Robert after a teacher decided to call him that. After high school, he visited his family in Morrison and joined the U.S. Air Force because of low wages in Chicago.
He began working for Playboy in 1961 while working as a freelance artist. Brown created a “Granny” character for the magazine that was risqué and humorous, which became his most famous work in his lifetime. His work wasn’t always risqué, but he always had a sense of humor in his art.
He became most famous during the Civil Rights Movement despite drawing mostly white characters.
Brown graduated from the University of Illinois in 1966 with a degree in art and that’s where he met his wife, Mary Ellen Brown.
He faced racial discrimination in the cartoon industry where he wanted to draw characters without referencing race, when some publications only wanted his work if the characters were portrayed as African Americans.
He worked as a freelance artist while at Playboy which allowed him to work for other publications such as the “Sunny and Honey” comic in Ebony Jr!, Scott Foresman’s publishing company and Dollars and Sense.
Brown and his wife had two children and six grandchildren together.
If you have any information on anyone who might be related to Robert “Buck” Brown, contact Wayne Wolford or the Black History Museum of Warren County Tennessee at (931) 212-6609.
Thehistorymakers.org contributed to this article.