Cleo Brown, winner of HBO Beah Richards Spirit Award, speaking at LA State Capital, LA Book Festival  

Cleo Brown, winner of HBO Beah Richards Spirit Award, speaking at LA State Capital, LA Book Festival


I didn't think that Ms. Brown's talk was going to be that informative. I thought it was just going to be some more pushing to vote. When you learn about the 1950s and 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement in the southern states through a history text, it's usually very sugar coated in my opinion. What I mean by "sugar coated" is that they don't really tell you everything that African Americans had to go through and what they experienced. Just listening to what she had to say about what it was like growing up in the south during those times was so captivating. I hung onto her every word.

Student, Skyline College, CA

Even though it has been a week since you spoke, everyone is mesmerized by your message. Because of your thought provoking information, intimate revelations of real life experiences coupled with empowering words of hope, our lives have been changed.

Leader, Charleston,SC Church

Thank you for coming to talk to us. This really inspired me to keep on going and that anybody can make it in life if they just don’t give up....

It really hit me when you talked about the prison system and I realized that’s not where I want to be in my future. I took in a lot you said. So thank you once again.

I’m in here now but I have a plan to reach my goals. Your speech just makes me want to push even harder and show people I can achieve.

Youth from SC Juvenile Detention Center


Race relations, class, and voting rights...

Why Cleo?

  • She specializes in helping people better understand current events through the lens of history.
  • Her gift is drawing people into meaningful conversations about race and class that lead to introspection and change.

Cleo draws from her book, "Witness to the Truth", a memoir of her father's struggle for voting rights, a book that helps youth and adult readers explore and understand complex issues of class, race, and discrimination in a simple non-intimidating manner. 

I think your lesson continues to be: What could be damagingly “inciteful” can instead be “insightful”.

E. H. , South Carolina

Cleo's History Matters Institute presents:


Addressing Race & Class Consciously: Think About What You Just Thought--A 90 minute workshop designed to help participants recognize and understand how their personal values are applied in determining the value of others. Workshop works best with groups of 75 or less. 

Inspirational Messages/Book Talks

Cleo is available for key notes, student lectures based on her book, race relations discussions, inspirational messages, workshops, book discussions and other types of assemblies. Some samples topics are as follows:

History Matters: Connecting Your Past to Your Present--Understanding the reasons for many of today's issues through an exploration of history, with a focus on race, voting rights, and class

Matters: Voting Rights & Wrongs--Voting: what it cost, why it matters, and what history teaches us about what is happening today

History Matters: Whose Report Do You Believe?-- Inspirational messages using history to help audiences understand and stop internalizing media stereotypes

Cleo has spoken nationally to youth and adults alike. As a member of the last Jim Crow generation (the last group of children to grow up under the legally-required segregated system) who was raised in the home of a leader under fire in the voting rights struggles of the 60s, Cleo touches audiences as only someone can who has direct personal experiences combined with a lack of bitterness and anger--that combination that can move people to introspection and action. She has the extraordinary ability to make the complex issues of race and class more understandable to old and young alike.

Contact us HERE to see if Cleo Brown is the right fit for your event.  


Contact us now to see if Cleo Brown is the right fit for your event.

One faculty member said you were the best speaker in the eight years she has been here.
N. C., Charleston Southern University


Is this how you felt after your last speaker? Should have hired Cleo!

...A powerful impression on all who heard you.
P. T. Tulane University

Prior Speaking Engagements (partial list)



Charleston Southern University (Convocation Speaker)

Tulane University

College of Charleston

Charleston School of Law

Skyline College



Charleston Southern University

College of Charleston

Louisiana State University

Louisiana Technical College

Loyola University

Morehouse College

Southern University

Southern Conference on African American Studies, Inc.

University of South Carolina

Annual McKnight Fellows Meeting

Association for the Study of African-American Life and History