Billy Brown helped people feel good about themselves 9/26/2014

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 26, 2014

Billy Brown helped people feel good about themselves

Lost in the overflow of tragic news from shootings that killed two young men last weekend was another death — that of a man who had spent the last decade trying to prevent just such senseless loss.
Billy Brown of Sardis died late Thursday, Sept. 18.

He called his organization Let’s Talk It Out. With his sister, Rosemary Brown McKinney, other family members and volunteers, Brown for more than a decade organized events, aimed at helping young men and women bring out the best in themselves.

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(With Brown, “young” was relative. In July, Let’s Talk It Out hosted the Women of Worship Conference — for ages 8 to 80.)

In 2006, Let’s Talk It Out began sponsoring annual basketball camps for youth  that featured positive messages from former athletes.

At the 2008 camp, it was Dr. Jamil Northcutt, then-athletic director for internal operations at Ole Miss, who was lunch speaker.

“Obey your parents and go to school,” Northcutt told the youngsters. “Be diligent, focus and continue.”
Northcutt was just one in a series of guests invited to the camps to give youngsters a positive role model. He wanted campers to see athletes who had earned scholarships through athletics and used those scholarships to prosper academically.

The events Brown’s organization sponsored were varied — fashion shows, youth forums addressing peer pressure, bullying and gang violence, skating parties to collect canned food for the Panola Pantry — anything to create an opportunity for youth to feel good about themselves. He had a way of soliciting support for Let’s Talk It Out projects that made us feel privileged to have been asked.

Billy Brown’s legacy will be hard for us to measure, but there is one good possibility: there may some who as youth came under the influence of Let’s Talk It Out who may be able to avoid whatever forces led to the shooting deaths of two young men at Hilltop last Saturday morning.