"Know your roots. Spread them and may they grow deep, so others can see that you, too, passed this way."
Scipio Brown was born into slavery and served as a slave until he was freed at the age of 44. In 1804 a farmer named James Bell, had an official statement notarized at his local courthouse in Surry County, Virginia.
The statement reads "To all to whom these presents may come greeting: know ye that I, James Bell of Surry County, having under my charge a negro man by the name of Scipio, who I have heretofore held as a slave, being at this time fully convinced that freedom is the natural right of all mankind, and being willing and desirous to do unto others as I would wish to be done unto in the like situation, do by these presents liberate, set free and forever discharge from slavery the said negro man Scipio, and I do by these presents quit claim to any estate that the said Scipio may hereafter acquire; and further I do by these presents warrant and defend unto the said Scipio his full freedom and all estate he may acquire against me, my heirs, executors, administrators and assigns. In witness whereof I hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this twenty fifth day of April 1804."
By this act, James Bell freed his slave, Scipio Brown, and the family and descendants of Scipio more than fifty years before the Civil War.
When James declared his act of conscience he went a step further and gave the newly freed Brown family a substantial tract of the Bell land to farm.In 1809 Scipio Brown married Amy Johnson and they had three children.
Scipio left a legacy of Brown family tradition and family members have prospered in politics, banking, medicine, law, professional athletics, the arts and more. In addition the Brown family honors a commitment to education, community service and excellence.