Site Overlay

Honoring Veterans: Army Veteran James “Jim” Brown

James “Jim” Brown was born in February 1936 in St. Simons Island, Georgia. He attended Syracuse University, where he participated in ROTC and achieved All-American honors in lacrosse and football before being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1957. After graduation, he commissioned into the Army Reserve, serving four years simultaneously while playing in the NFL.

In the NFL, Brown established himself as one of the greatest players of the era, and in NFL history. He was a three-time MVP who led the league in rushing yards for eight seasons. At the height of his athletic peak, though, Brown left the sport to pursue acting.

Brown starred in various films, including “The Dirty Dozen,” where he portrayed Robert Jefferson, a soldier on a mission for redemption. Brown had a knack for roles that showcased grit and resilience. His acting career would go on to span decades, with more than 50 film credits that often highlighted themes of justice and moral integrity.

In the late 1960s, Brown took his advocacy for social justice to new heights. He founded the Negro Industrial Economic Union, later named the Black Economic Union, an organization aimed at promoting economic development within Black communities.

Even after retiring from professional sports and acting, Brown continued to advocate for social justice, lending his platform to various causes over the years. He received numerous awards not only for his contributions to sports but also for his enduring efforts to bring about social change.

Brown died in May 2023. He was 87.

We honor his service. 

Nominate a Veteran for Honoring Veterans

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s Honoring Veterans social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to ne****** with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This Honoring Veterans profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at

Prompt Engineer: Robert Bagley

Editors: Ethan Oleson, Tayler Rairigh

Researchers: Jacoryn Whatley, Raphael Romea

Graphic Designer: William Vega

A portion of this story was generated by AI. None of the data we reported included personal or sensitive information, and it was fact-checked and edited by a human copy editor prior to publishing.

Welcome to your local American Legion! We will no longer be open for dinner on Mondays and Tuesdays.