The AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C., is hosting a memorial for Brother Earl Brown, with a reception to follow.

Please RSVP to: [email protected]

If you are unable to attend, the memorial will be broadcast live here.

Saturday, March 25
AFL-CIO, 815 16th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.
Doors open at 2:30 p.m., program begins at 3 p.m.
Reception will follow.

Please RSVP to: [email protected]

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Solidarity Center.

The Solidarity Center and the global labor movement lost a passionate civil-rights champion, tireless defender of workers, brilliant intellect and, most of all, a good friend yesterday. Earl V. Brown, Jr., Solidarity Center labor and employment law counsel, succumbed February 26 to complications following a long bout with pneumonia. He will be sorely missed by family, friends, colleagues and the thousands of workers whose lives he touched around the world.

Brown worked with grassroots groups in Thailand to advance social justice and labor rights. Here, he taught young lawyers from Burma in Mae Sot, Thailand, in 2011. Credit: Solidarity Center/Rudy Porter

A longtime U.S. labor activist, Earl had represented trade unions and employees in U.S. labor and civil-rights litigation since 1976. He served as general counsel of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, associate general counsel with the United Mine Workers of America, and was a partner in a U.S. labor and employment law firm before joining the Solidarity Center in 1999. He also was a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and recently served as the union co-chair of the International Labor Law Committee of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the American Bar Association.

His illustrious résumé, however, does not fully capture his compassion, humor and deep bond with workers and grassroots rights activists. Earl dedicated the last 17 years of his career to building a broader global labor and social justice movement. As Asia regional labor and employment law counsel for the Solidarity Center, he lived in Thailand for six years, where he worked directly with lawyers and grassroots groups to promote enforcement of labor, discrimination and employment law.

Earl Brown, Rev. William Barber, Solidarity Center, civil rights

Throughout his life, Brown was dedicated to pursuing civil rights. Here he meets with the Rev. Dr. William J Barber II. Photo courtesy Solidarity Center/Hanad Mohamud

Over his long career, Earl met, mentored, trained and supported workers, lawyers and human rights advocates confronting some of the world’s greatest injustices. His work helped Burmese migrants and refugees fight employment discrimination in Thailand; Bangladeshi lawyers pursue justice in Bangladeshi courts for victims of industrial disasters; networks of unions and NGOs expose occupational diseases; and strengthen workers’ compensation laws and practices across Asia.

“Earl was one of the smartest people I have ever met,’ said Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau. “He was deeply grounded politically, morally and in his work in the belief that the people of the global working class, especially the most disenfranchised, were the most important people in the world, and his work from Bangladesh to Thailand to China always reflected that. And he made me laugh. A lot. I will miss him like so many.”

Tributes to Earl Pouring in from around the World

Said Cathy Feingold, AFL-CIO international director: “We lost an incredible colleague and friend, Earl Brown. Civil rights lawyer, U.S. labor lawyer and rule of law expert for workers’ movements around the world. Rarely have I met someone with such a deep commitment to justice. He taught us all so much through his wisdom, humor and experience. He will be greatly missed and his memory will be honored by all of us who will continue to fight for justice here and with partners around the world.”

And Thailand’s Human Rights Development Foundation, a longtime Solidarity Center ally, released a statement that summed up Earl’s impact on the movement for social justice. “It is our hope, in the wake of Earl’s tragic passing, that others will find strength to continue promoting the rights of workers, protecting the vulnerable and fostering justice.”

Memorial Service

We will be honoring Earl’s lifelong commitment to civil rights and the labor movement with a memorial Saturday, March 25, at AFL-CIO headquarters, 815 16th Street, NW, Washington, D.C.
Doors at 2:30 p.m., and the program begins at 3 p.m. A reception will follow. Please RSVP to: [email protected]

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