Cheryl Brown

Cheryl Brown

By Amanda Ramirez | 08/28/13 8:00 AM PST

As a newspaper publisher, Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown is not shy about her advocacy for journalists.

Brown, D-San Bernardino, has been on both sides of the political world, first as a journalist and now as a participant. Elected last year in an upset victory, Brown said the press – whose coverage of Sacramento has been reduced sharply in recent years – plays a “necessary and very important” role and serves as a “check and a balance [system] for everyone.”

“If I do something wrong, they should put me in check,” she said in an interview in her Capitol office.

The daughter of a newspaperman, Brown and her husband, Hardy, in 1980 bought a small UC Riverside publication, The Black Voice News, where she served as its editor-in-chief, and began the Brown Publishing Company.

The reputation and credibility of The Black Voice News grew significantly when, in 1998, it diligently covered the shooting and killing of an African American teenager, Tyisha Miller. As a community newspaper, it took risks by reporting things that the police did not — an example of how, as Brown explains, journalists carry out their duty of checking people and society.

The Browns have been honored in the historic Black Press of America along with figures like Frederick Douglas and Ida B. Wells-Barnett; Brown and her husband are the only living members included in the 175th anniversary of the Black Press of America.

Today Brown has no involvement in Brown Publishing Co. or The Black Voice News. Although her husband continues to write for The Black Voice News, her daughter, Paulette Brown-Hinds, runs the publication.

Last year, Brown took the plunge into elective politics after establishing a reputation for deep involvement for 30 years in the San Bernardino community. Labeling herself as a “community activist,” Brown has done it all – from picking up trash on the streets, serving 17 years with the county and city planning commissions and as a trustee of the San Bernardino African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The years of community involvement paid off when she defeated Joe Baca Jr., who had served in the Assembly from 2004-06. He is the son of Joe Baca, a former member of the Assembly and a member of Congress. The Baca name is well known in the Inland Empire and Brown’s victory captured widespread attention.

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