BY JEANETTE LENOIR
“Social advance depends as much upon the process through which it is secured as upon the result itself.” – Jane Addams
It took a tragic incident during a festive gathering in 1875 to bring about change in American policing. And Daniel Brown, like George Floyd, was the catalyst that shifted the relationship between citizens and police in Baltimore; citizens concerned for their civil rights and the police for their authority to enter private homes.
Brown, a proud freeman and home owner, “provided the context in which [he] confronted Officer McDonald,” Shufelt writes, in an effort to find justification or make sense of the racial circumstances that led to him being clubbed and shot to death by the officer. Brown, through the lens of the white immigrant cop from Ireland, forgot his place in America’s social order when he defended his humanity after the officer came knocking on his door for a noise complaint. And because of deep-rooted and long-standing racial conflicts in America Brown is portrayed in the media and the pages of history as a “too proud Black man” partly responsible for his death.
“But Daniel Brown’s individual response to a situation he perceived as an affront to his dignity as a freeman and the proprietor of his own home played a role in the tragedy,” writes Shufelt, and, “The evidence shows that in his daily life Daniel Brown was in the habit of standing up for his rights with enough self-assurance to get the attention of his white acquaintances.”
This is the story of Daniel Brown. A proud American who knew his civil rights, stood up for himself and others, and was brutally beaten and shot to death for it by a police officer sworn to defend these rights. Nonetheless, the unjustified and brutal murder of Brown by Officer McDonald changed the course in American history when the white police officer was convicted of killing him.
Although the small gathering at this proud freeman’s home proved to be fatal for him, ending the life he’d diligently planned for himself and his wife, Keziah, Daniel Brown left behind a powerful legacy we see in civil rights movements like The Black Panther Party and Black Lives Matter. And that’s a life well-lived, no matter how it ended.
A conversation with the author, Gordon H. Shufelt:
In The Uncommon Case of Daniel Brown, readers travel through praiseworthy hills and deplorable valleys of our American culture, landing squarely on a pivotal societal curve, when a white police officer gets convicted of killing a Black citizen.
The Uncommon Case of Daniel Brown can be purchased on Amazon or via the link below: