Oral Lee Brown

Program 99 • 29 mins


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She calls them “my babies”—public school students she informally adopts in the roughest section of Oakland, CA. They call her “Ma,”—Mrs. Oral Lee Brown, a most remarkable community activist who, starting in 1987, promised twenty-three children (an entire first grade class): if they study hard and graduate high school, she’ll somehow scrape together the money to put them all through college. And she’s been true to her word.


  • How does one woman pay for 23 children to go to college on a $45,000 a year salary?
  • What prompted her to do so?
  • Is one woman’s promise to those children enough motivate them to succeed?

There’s nothing that I would not do for those kids then or now to help them better themselves. I expected a lot out of them, I gave a lot, and I demanded a lot.”

—Oral Lee Brown


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