A Celebration For Mr. DC
Edgar Brookins Retires From The Washington Afro American Newspapers Leaving A Lasting Legacy--And Hosting A Great Party
Story and Photography By Raoul Dennis
His title may have been Washington Circulation Manager but Brookins’ role led him to be the face of the Washington Afro American Newspaper. For nearly 30 years, Edgar Brookins brought the Afro into homes, offices, churches, shopping centers and communities throughout the district. Always suited with his signature French collar shirts, Brookins was man-about-town under the Afro’s banner.
The Afro American hosted a retirement event for Brookins and his family at Martins Crosswinds in Greenbelt, MD November 17. It was emceed by Guy Lambert of WPGC Radio and Fox 5 Plus.
Attended by society leaders, VIPs (such as Joe Coleman – former lead singer for the Platters) and community and corporate groups, Brookins was awarded and recognized by The Afro American Newspapers, Sisters 4 Sisters Network, the National Linwood Alumni Association and a number of other communities that his work touched over the years.
The ballroom was steeped in photographers and other media professionals as one of their own was honored. Other media notables included Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes of the Washington Informer, Journalist/Commentator Hamil Harris, Chanel Brown of TV One and renowned photographer Roy Lewis.
“I took this work at the Afro seriously,” said the U.S. Army veteran who had served there for 20 years during an exclusive interview with Prince George’s Suite Magazine. Brookins always believed that his military service prepared him for the work he did at the Afro American. “When 9-11 happened, we kept our doors open. We kept our lights on. We knew that it was our responsibility to let the world know that the African American community in the nation’s capital was unbowed.”
Said Dexter Brookins: “Whenever I come here and I’m at the supermarket or the mall or wherever and I mention that my name is Dexter Brookins, people ask me if I’m related to Edgar or Bishop Brookins – my great uncle. So, to come from a small town of about 1,800 people and then come to a big city like D.C. and people seem to know your name says a lot about the work that [my dad] has done for this city and for our folks, also.”
Said Afro American Newspapers CEO and Publisher Frances Murphy Draper “When I first met Mr. Brookins I saw his work ethic of coming at five in the morning…sometimes as early as four in the morning to get the work done. So we wanted to thank you for 28 years of faithful service to the Afro and to this community.”
The Brookins family also paid tribute to daughter Ciera Brookins, whose life was cut short by Lupus. A portion of the proceeds from the event was shared with The Lupus Foundation.
A performance by Master T, an impersonator of the late legendary r&b recording artist Barry White, became one of the hottest segments of the celebration. Master T’s vocal efforts on love songs like “Practice What You Preach,” left many women swooning and the entire room charged up. The crooner spent a little time at the table of Prince George’s Community College President Dr. Charlene Dukes who seemed to appreciate the gesture.
Brookins says he’s not ready to slow down. He’s mentioned possibly taking on a teaching position with a local college although details are still being discussed. In fact, Draper says he will stay with the Afro over the months ahead as the transition to the next generation of leadership takes hold.
Atomic Dog blared from speakers as Brookins, a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, made the march to the stage for final remarks.
“I’m pleased today that you would come today to say thank you. I’m very thankful to my Afro family and my family. Here we are today – the fruits of our labor.”
Brookins called on the dj for a sampling of the Gladys Knight & The Pips classic “You’re The Best Thing (That Ever Happened To Me)” to be the heart of his farewell message:
“I've had my share
Of life's ups and downs
But fate's been kind
The downs had been few
I guess you could say
That I've been lucky
And I guess you could say
It's all because of you
If anyone, should ever write, my life story
For whatever reason there might be
You'd be there
Between each line of fame and glory
'Cause your the best thing that ever happened to me
You're the best thing that ever happened to me…”