B. J. Brooks

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B. J. Brooks
Born November 26, 1935
Died February 15, 1998
Pensacola
Spouse Lucille Brooks
Parents John B. Brooks

The Reverend Billie Joe (B. J.) Brooks, Sr. (1935-1998) was a Pensacola civil rights leader, two-time president of the NAACP Pensacola branch, and pastor of the Greater Mount Lily Baptist Church.

In December 1974, when black motorist Wendel Blackwell was shot and killed by an Escambia County Sheriff's Deputy, Brooks urged Escambia County Sheriff Royal Untreiner to suspend the deputy pending a full investigation. When Untreiner refused, Brooks led a series of demonstrations early the next year, along with local SCLC leaders H. K. Matthews and Otha Leverette, that culminated in a February 24 confrontation in which 47 people were arrested for unlawful assembly, including the three men. Brooks and Matthews were later charged with additional counts of felony extortion and convicted on June 10, 1975.

In 1996, Brooks accused deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff's Office of using excess force in killing a 15-year-old boy who pointed an empty shotgun at two undercover officers posing as pizza-delivery men.

In 1997, he helped derail a proposal to rename Bayfront Parkway and Main Street after Martin Luther King, feeling the street's proximity to the Main Street Wastewater Treatment Plant would be undignified to Dr. King's legacy. Instead Brooks pushed to rename A Street, which runs through a predominantly black neighborhood, after the slain civil rights leader, but failed to gain sufficient support. (A portion of Alcaniz Street was eventually renamed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.) Also in 1997, Brooks supported two black City of Pensacola Parks & Recreation workers who were fired after an altercation with white Pensacola Police Officers outside a community center.

Brooks passed away on February 15, 1998, at the age of 62. Reverend Michael Johnson said of him, "He had a burning desire to help people. Like most people that take on that kind of leadership, even if it meant sometimes sacrificing, he would do it."[1]

The local NAACP chapter has established a scholarship in his honor.

References[edit]

  1. Obituary. Palm Beach Post, February 19, 1998.