Last Updated on February 20, 2023 by BVN
Mr. Hardy Brown, Sr. and Mrs. Cheryl Brown are honored for their love, dedication, and contributions to the African American community in San Bernardino and beyond, and their service to the inland region.
Cheryl served as the 47th Assembly District Assemblymember from 2012 to 2016, chairing the Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care Committee and authoring a resolution establishing the California Task Force on Family Caregiving.
They are philanthropists, community activists, and former publishers who co-founded the Brown Publishing Company in 1980 to produce Black Voice News, which turned 50 last year. Their names were added to a list of historic publishers, including Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who published the truth and gave voice to the disenfranchised.
Hardy also co-founded California Black Media (CBM), a network of 22 African American media owners in California that helps inform and educate the African American community on key issues. The couple founded the Black Voice Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to training and educating individuals in print, digital, and electronic media, as well as personal development programs.
One of the Browns’ most significant contributions is the Footsteps to Freedom Study Tours, which partnered with several education and federal agencies to lead a unique summer study tour program.
In this program, educators and college students learn first-hand about the incredible courage of the people who sought freedom or who helped others achieve it along the central and lesser-known route of the Underground Railway from Kentucky to Canada. Over 500 area teachers and administrators have taken the course since its inception.
Moreover, Black Voice News spearheaded the “Building Better Communities” program, which works with local companies, organizations, and agencies to improve neighborhoods. This program had a significant impact on the Inland Empire, helping to improve access to education, healthcare, and other critical services for African Americans and other underrepresented communities in the region.
Cheryl has consistently advocated for family-owned small businesses, both inside and outside of elected office. Her father, Marvin, a WWII veteran, founded a tax preparation business in Southern California more than six decades ago, and instilled in her the value and community benefits of small business ownership. Today, Cheryl’s older brother runs the family business, while her daughter, Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds, follows in the family’s footsteps as the current publisher of Black Voice News
The couple raised four children in San Bernardino. Lynn, Paulette, Hardy Jr., and Regina who collectively, have blessed their parents with many grandchildren.
A love story
During a recent, exclusive interview with Black Voice News, the couple shared a more personal and intimate story about their relationship, why it has sustained, and how they have defied the odds of longevity regarding their marriage.
Q: Did you have many challenges combining families and maintaining relationships with in-laws? If so, how have you navigated them?
A: There were no challenges according to the couple. Cheryl’s mom absolutely loved Hardy. And Cheryl’s dad did the couple’s taxes until one of Cheryl’s brothers began doing them a few decades ago. Each of their parents taught them that they can do anything and they have carried that can-do energy into everything they’ve done. “Even with our kids’ in-laws, we are a big family”
During our interview, Cheryl received flowers from her brother for her birthday, further demonstrating the emphasis this family puts on bonding and the closeness they share.
Q: It’s Valentine’s Day. What’s your secret to thriving as a couple? How have you maintained intimacy and romantic connection in your union despite the demands of everyday life? What simple yet obvious ways to maintain connection that have made a difference in your union?
A: The Browns shared how they find ways to demonstrate being loving and devoted to each other all the time. They mentioned the importance of exchanging “I love you’s” daily. Hardy also recommended reading the 13th Chapter of Corinthians. He said it’s a way of life. Love is more than Valentine’s Day. “Demonstrate Love and devotion together everyday” he advised, “Valentine’s Day wouldn’t mean much if you didn’t practice those things consistently.”
Q: What are you most proud of in your spouse? What makes you their biggest fan?
A: Hardy said he loves that Cheryl doesn’t hold grudges. Cheryl loves that he’s a good provider. Hardy has always had their backs. And Hardy knows Cheryl has his back. For example, since Hardy has trouble speaking now, whenever he wants to speak at City Council meetings, he’ll write his comments and Cheryl will read his words.
Hardy has lived with ALS for 23 years. The transition between Hardy being the provider has been relatively seamless and the couple says that they credit their foresight and planning for life with how they are still able to thrive now. Hardy said, “Once you do that, you’re not under stress.” Cheryl added, “In our early days, I made the kids’ clothes. Sometimes I’d stay up all night, just for the kids to wake up and have their new clothes ready for school.”
Q: Can you discuss any trips or adventures you have taken together to keep your relationship dynamic?
A:The Browns used to visit family cross-country taking road trips from San Bernardino to North Carolina via Route 66. They traveled through the Smoky Mountains, and they even visited New York and a Rattlesnake Pit in Arizona. The Browns shared how the trips were impactful for the whole family. Even on anniversaries, the kids were included.
Q: You have four children, how did you navigate child rearing? What kinds of compromises did you have to make? Can you discuss any challenges you have faced in finding a healthy work-life balance and how you have overcome them?
A: Cheryl shared how when the kids were growing up, they needed assistance, now she is caregiving for Hardy. Regarding challenges, when a nearby school, Franklin Jr. High School was closed down, Hardy responded by running for School Board, won and held his seat for 12 years. “He encouraged kids to advocate for themselves,” Cheryl highlighted.
Be with people who help your being
Q: When you started your lives together, was there a couple you wanted to emulate?
A: There was no specific couple. Mr. Brown was adamant that, “We are not the exception.” The couple intentionally associated with people who knew how to keep a commitment. Hardy’s parents were married for a long time. Even during Hardy’s time as a Vice President at the National Newspaper Publishers Association, they were also surrounded by other thriving Black couples with similar aims. This theme was also present at their church, St. Paul AME, where many parishioners were married and shining examples of longevity.
Q: What advice do you have for Black couples starting their journey together?
A: Cheryl answered, “Get on one accord. You’re coming from two backgrounds. Try to find someone who was raised in a similar way to how you were raised” Hardy responded, “Always remember the oath you take. Understand and mean that. Then nothing can really come between you. It can’t be too bad.”
Cheryl recognizes that sometimes people can’t remain together, “Some people might want to break their oaths. That’s okay. I am blessed that’s not me.”
Q: How have you maintained your identities and helped each other achieve personal goals and aspirations? How have you supported each other in navigating new opportunities such as career changes?
A: Cheryl said, “Anything I wanted to do, Hardy supported me. When I wanted to go to work, I did. He’s always been there to support me for whatever. And we are the same way for our kids. We support them.”
Hardy was a huge reason Cheryl ran for public office. He advocated for it and loaned the campaign the first $50K.
On things that have made the family stand out.
Cheryl recalled a conversation where her mother encouraged her to do something out of her comfort zone, “Mr. Rheubottom has asked you to be the emcee at the community program.”
“I don’t want to do that,” Chery responded. “Mom said, ‘I understand, but you’re going to do it.’ So Cheryl did it and she believes it helped her.
She said she was the same way with her kids. They initially had trepidation but with encouragement from their parents, they could do anything. As a result, the couple’s son Hardy Brown II was an elected official as well, serving Area D of the San Bernardino County Office of Education from 2014-2021.
Even their 13-year-old granddaughter is learning to get used to public speaking at school. “Maybe she’ll be governor someday,” Cheryl remarked, hopeful she’ll continue the family tradition of civic service.
The Browns recently celebrated their 60th anniversary, which is rare and termed The Diamond Anniversary. Their love and commitment have stood the tests of time, with only 2% of currently married individuals claiming this milestone, according to the National Center for Family & Marriage Research (NCFMR).
The Browns’ love story serves as an inspiration to many, and their contributions to the African American community will continue to be celebrated and remembered.
Overall, the Browns are an enterprising and a deeply inspiring couple. The community thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their amazing journey.