From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Brown, Phil H.

(born: 1872  -  died: 1923) 

Phil Brown was the appointed Commissioner of Conciliation in the U.S. Department of Labor's Division of Negro Economics. News of his appointment appreared in "Politics" in M. G. Allison's article "The Horizon" in The Crisis, June 1921, vol. 22, issue 2, number 128, p. 80 [available online at Google Books].

The Division of Negro Economics was established in 1918 to mobilize Negro workers and address their issues during World War I. The program came about after much pressure from Negro leaders. It was the first program to assist Negro workers, acting as an informal employment agency. George Haynes of the Urban League was named director, continuing in the post until the program was discontinued in 1921 when Haynes left the office.

Phil H. Brown replaced Haynes in 1921 with the new title of Commissioner of Conciliation. He was assigned the task of making a special study of Negro migration to the North, including the cause of the migration. Brown delivered an address on his findings at the International Labor Conference in Toronto, Canada.

Brown continued to serve as the Commissioner of Conciliation until his sudden death in November 1923. He died of a heart attack at his home, 1326 Riggs St. N.W., Washington, D.C. Funeral services were conducted at Brown's home by Rev. J. C. Olden and Rev. T. J. Brown. Brown's body was sent to Hopkinsville, KY, for burial; he considered the city his home town.

Brown was born in Ironton, OH; he lived in Washington, D.C. while working at the Government Printing Office (GPO), then later moved to Hopkinsville, where he was a Republican leader. He was employed by the Republican National Committee during the presidential elections from 1908-1920.

Brown was also an associate of W. C. Handy; he wrote a commentary that accompanied Handy's 1922 published sheet music, "John Henry Blues." [Handy's first wife, Elizabeth, was a Kentucky native.]

Phil Brown was also a recognized journalist and publisher in Kentucky; he had owned a printing company located at Tenth and Chestnut Streets in Hopkinsville. He was editor of the newspaper Major in 1902 and the Morning News in 1903. He also published the Saturday News. Brown had associations with the Chicago Daily News, The New York Journal, and the New York Sun. He also wrote articles for many other publications. In 1916, Brown's printing company published the book The Awakening of Hezekiah Jones, by J. E. Bruce.

Brown was married to Dorothea "Dolly" R. Brown (born in 1872 in Pennsylvania; died in 1924). Prior to their second move to Washington, D.C., the couple had lived on North Liberty Street in Hopkinsville, according to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census.

For more see A History of Christian County Kentucky from Oxcart to Airplane, by C. M. Meacham; Colored Girls and Boys Inspiring United States History and a Heart to Heart Talk About White Folks, by W. H. Harrison, Jr.; "Phil H. Brown dies suddenly in Washington," The Afro American, 12/7/1923, p. 1; and U.S. Department of Labor Historian J. MacLaury, "The Federal Government and Negro Workers Under President Woodrow Wilson," paper delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Society for History in the Federal Government, 3/16/2000, Washington, D.C. [available online].

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Christian County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Hopkinsville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Brown, Phil H.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-06-09 15:10:34