JB Gets His Degree
Most of the “Godfather of Soul” James Brown’s education came through life experience. But his achievements were recognized by Paine College, which awarded him an honorary degree in January, shortly after his death. The historically Black Georgia school in Augusta, Ga., had intended to award Brown the degree in May 2007.
The music icon owned a publishing company and several radio stations — impressive for a man who never made it past third grade. Reared in rural South Carolina in the 1930s, Brown was dismissed from school because his clothes were too ragged, according to a New York Times obituary.
But Brown encouraged others to follow a different path in his famous 1966 song, “Don’t Be a Dropout.” He also met with U.S. Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey to promote a stayin- school initiative.
“It’s very obvious he respected education,” Paine President Shirley A.R. Lewis told The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “We remember his many songs telling young people to stay in school.” In the 1960s, Brown used his songs to motivate Blacks during the civil rights movement.
“There was a time when you would call somebody Black and they’d get offended,” Barbara Johnson, of Harlem told The Associated Press. “James Brown said, ‘No, baby, say it loud, ‘I’m Black and I’m proud.’”
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