It's been nearly two years since Dr. Tommie F. Brown was dethroned as a longtime state representative by JoAnne Favors, but Brown said she doesn't intend to stop serving her community.
"It would be criminal to sit down and not make a contribution when you've been blessed with the opportunities that I've been blessed with," she said. "So I think I'm here for a reason."
At age 58 in 1992, Brown became the first black woman elected as state representative in the 28th Legislative District, replacing the late Rep. C.B. Robinson after he retired. Her one-time former campaign manager, JoAnne Favors, also a state representative, ran against her for the seat and won in August 2012 after Republicans redrew voting lines and merged their two districts.
Brown's latest mission is to revitalize the 28th Legislative District Community Development Corp., the organization she conceived in the 1970s while working on her dissertation at Columbia University. The CDC was established to provide housing and economic development in the late 1990s.
This is the first year Brown has been able to vote on the CDC board. While she was a state representative she was an advisory member with no voting power.
"I've got to stabilize the CDC and leave a fierce institution in the hands of the African-American community," she said. "I'll be beating the bushes and looking for other board members."
She had major heart surgery at the end of July and doctors have not released her to travel at will.
"I'm 79 at this point and He has blessed me," she said. "I'm diabetic. I'm hypertensive. And I have cardiac problems and I'm a cancer survivor. And He has kept me here all of these years in spite of it all. So I think I've got one or two more things I've got to do."
This update was written by staff writer Yolanda Putman. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6431. To suggest a topic for Whatever Happened To, email news@ timesfreepress.com.