Nick Brown, former ‘Survivor’ contestant, wants to bring Black male perspective to attorney general’s office

TheGrio’s “Running Black” election series profiles Black candidates running for office in the 2024 elections. If successful, each candidate profiled could make history in their state. Hear from them in their own words about what’s at stake in their races, for the country, and for Black and brown communities on the political margin.

Nick Brown has the kind of resume that almost seems destined for politics. The Morehouse College and Harvard Law School graduate served in the U.S. Army, worked as a federal prosecutor, and served as general counsel for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Brown, 46, is now hoping his years of public service and legal experience can serve him well as the state’s next attorney general. If his bid for office is successful, he would become the first Black person to occupy an executive office in Washington state’s history. 

“We are historically a very white city and state, and certainly our politics has been dominated by white folks,” said Brown, who grew up in Seattle. He told theGrio, “I love the idea of making history. Not just to be the first but to bring perspective as a Black man to the office to try to improve the way that we do justice in this state.”

Though the solidly blue state of Washington doesn’t have a large Black population (less than 5%), the Democratic candidate noted that the state is particularly diverse when you include its Hispanic, Asian, Indian, and Native American communities. Despite its diversity, however, Washington has historically dealt with the same issues many other states experience regarding racial inequality and criminal justice. 

“We’ve got a long way … to fully be inclusive and to fully include people’s voices and to make sure we’re not ignoring people that have been ignored for generations,” said Brown, whom President Joe Biden appointed as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington in 2021.

The father of two and proud “soccer dad” said that after years of service in the U.S. military and the U.S. Department of Justice, he realized that if he wanted to make significant changes in policies that touch the lives of Black and brown communities, he had to run for public office. Brown hopes to “harness” the power of the attorney general’s office to give marginalized communities access and to be a “sounding board” for them. 

Brown, who is soft-spoken and contemplative, shared that public service is meaningful to him. He was encouraged by his parents at a young age to “have an impact on the community, to give a damn about what was happening around me [and] to participate in any way I could.”

“I was that kid running for student body president and trying to be involved in student government,” said Brown, who later attended Morehouse through an Army ROTC scholarship and began his legal career as a judge advocate general in the Army after graduating from Harvard Law.

What Washington voters may be surprised to learn about Brown is that he competed on the reality competition show “Survivor” more than 20 years ago. 

Washington state attorney general candidate Nick Brown is standing second from right in this 2001 promotional portrait of contestants from “Survivor: The Australian Outback.” (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

“I’m definitely an old-school OG ‘Survivor’ contestant,” he said.  “I was in law school. I applied for season two …  it was the No. 2 watched show in America.”

Brown, considered a physical threat on the show, finished in the top seven. “[I] went out and played this crazy game and then came back and finished law school and went on with my life,” he shared. “I never aspired to be anything other than what I was on the path to being, but I loved the adventure and the excitement and craziness of doing this reality TV show.”

The progressive attorney said “Survivor” was his first exposure to being a public person. 

“Thankfully, when I was on the show, social media didn’t really exist, so I wasn’t too caught up in all the madness that comes with that,” he explained. “But I do think it shows a little bit about my personality that I like an adventure … I’m not afraid to change course and make big decisions.”

Brown is running his campaign on issues like defending abortion rights, safeguarding against climate change, protecting democracy, and ending gun violence. In a campaign ad, he vowed to defend the civil rights of every Washingtonian. All of these goals, he argued, can mostly be achieved on the state and local levels. 

For example, Brown pointed to the wave of book bans and censorship of Black history happening in states like Florida, Texas and Arkansas. 

Recommended Stories

“The history of America, the true history of America, is being disregarded, ignored, not taught, or completely falsified,” he said. “We often think about these [bans] at a national level, but these efforts have been from the local level, from school boards and rising up.”

Brown blamed former President Donald Trump, the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee, for the vitriol spreading across the country as it relates to race. 

“Former President Trump has, I think, further empowered people to be blatantly racist, to be led by their own grievances or fears, or hatred for other folks,” he told theGrio. “But it’s not just him. It’s a whole party that has shifted that way in recent years.” 

Brown argued that the country often gets “distracted” or “too focused” on the presidency and what’s happening in Washington, D.C., but really voters should turn their attention to who is occupying public offices down the ballot. 

“The more that we can turn to state and local efforts, the more success that we’ll have because most of the things that I think we care about as Black Americans or any sort of American are really being decided [there],” he argued. 

“We are not going to protect and strengthen our history and our voice in America as Black Americans, or any other racial minority unless we are willing to participate,” said Brown. “Unless we are willing to educate and demand elected leaders actually hear from us. If we stay on the sidelines, decisions are going to be made for us.”

Gerren Keith Gaynor

Gerren Keith Gaynor is a White House Correspondent and the Managing Editor of Politics at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.

Never miss a beat: Get our daily stories straight to your inbox with theGrio’s newsletter.

Source link
TheGrio’s “Running Black” election series highlights Black candidates running for office in the 2024 elections, including Nick Brown, a Harvard Law School graduate running for attorney general in Washington state. Brown, if successful, would be the first Black person to hold an executive office in the state. He hopes to bring a new perspective as a Black man to improve justice in Washington, a predominantly white state with historically ignored communities of color. Brown, a former federal prosecutor and U.S. Army veteran, aims to give marginalized communities a voice through his campaign focused on defending civil rights, climate change, and ending gun violence. He also criticizes the rise of racist sentiments fueled by former President Trump and stresses the importance of state and local elections in shaping policies that impact communities. Brown urges active participation in the political process to protect the voices and history of Black Americans and other minorities.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.