Mayor Brown asks students to ‘sit on front porch’

By Henry Shorr

Mayor Jamael Tito Brown came to Youngstown State University to speak to members of the campus group, Achieve Impact Motivate on Nov. 17. He touched on his history in city politics, and his hope that more students get involved in their communities.

Brown reminded students that their lives are not solely their jobs. He said people often tie work to their identity but need to remember work comes and goes, but life is constant.

“You got to come across some jobs and some of them are going to be a lot more glamorous than others. And some of them you’re going to have struggled with. And I’ve had my source of jobs that I struggle with. But I knew that at one point, I would get to a certain point in my life that I would enjoy the job,” Brown said.

Brown spoke about being a “born and bred” Youngstowner. He touched on his time at YSU while completing his undergraduate and graduate studies before touching on his professional life and his political trajectory. He said each step made in his career was because of a need in his life and community.

“I started on the Youngstown City School Board — and that was because I was a concerned father. There was opportunity on the board,” Brown said. “Then my mentor … he came and said ‘I’m about to be done with being the city councilman. It’s time for you to take a lead and take care of your neighborhood. You’re a Northside kid, you grew up there, it’s time for you to really take care of your neighborhood.’”

He also spoke on his first mayoral race in 2013, in which he lost by 142 votes. He reminded students, “every vote counts,” and it’s important to exercise one’s civic duty. He continued speaking about his time as mayor, saying that he is “everyone’s mayor, no matter if they voted for [him] or not.”

Brown closed his speech with an anecdote about a woman from his neighborhood, Mrs. Doretha, who would sit on her front porch all day. He said because she sat on her front porch, she could see everything, and be an active member of her community.

“She was unequivocal, she wasn’t scared, she didn’t care. But at the end of the day, she was on that front porch for a reason. She was looking over my community,” Brown said.

He said the neighborhood was a better place because Mrs. Doretha sat on her front porch as part of her community, and he asked students in the room to sit on the front porch in their neighborhood. 

“I think in this world today, we like our patios … We don’t want to go in the front because, in the front, we might have to do something about what’s going on,” Brown said. “When you guys leave this educational institution, I want you to go and sit on your front porch of your community. By volunteering or getting involved.”

For students who want to involve themself with their communities more deeply, Brown said the best place to start is city social organizations. He said there isn’t a food bank or a shelter that won’t take help right now.