Originally created 12/31/06

Paine College bestows degree in honor of contributions



Dr. Shirley A.R. Lewis, the president of Paine College, bestowed an honorary doctorate on James Brown toward the end of Saturday's memorial service. She said the degree was supposed to be given to Mr. Brown during the school's commencement in May.

"We were looking forward to seeing Mr. Brown march in the commencement procession with the graduates," she said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said there was an "emergency meeting" on the night Mr. Brown died to determine whether the degree should be given at that time. They decided to wait until the memorial service so Mr. Brown's family could be present.

Dr. Lewis and Robert L. Bell, the chairman of Paine College's board of trustees, presented the degree in recognition of Mr. Brown's unparalleled contributions to the nation and the world.

Dr. Lewis described Mr. Brown as "a man who shaped the canon of contemporary music, a man who respected education and educational access, and a man who loved the Lord."

Mr. Brown's three daughters accepted the degree.

"And now ladies and gentlemen," Dr. Lewis said in closing. "Will you please - excuse me - will you please, please, please join me in applauding Dr. James Brown."

Mr. Brown had been a friend to the college during its most desperate times.

He came to Augusta to play a benefit for the historically black private college Feb. 4, 1969. The concert was a fundraiser for the reconstruction of Haygood Hall, which was destroyed by fire Aug. 3, 1968. Haygood, built in 1869, was the campus's main building. The fire destroyed its historic clock tower and offices, classrooms, student records and a museum of African artifacts, according to Augusta Chronicle reports.

During a packed morning ceremony Feb. 4 at the college's Gilbert-Lambuth Chapel, campus and city officials declared Tuesday as "James Brown and Paine College Day."

When Mr. Brown arrived later he was part of a parade down Broad Street that drew thousands. He visited a youth development center, then performed for a sold-out crowd at Bell Auditorium.