By Deborah Bailey
Special to the AFRO
The connector…The bridge builder…The architect.
Saturday, hundreds connected both in-person and virtually at the Memorial Chapel at Fort Myer base in Arlington Virginia, celebrating Edgar Allen Brookins, a man who befriended, supported, mentored and poured into their lives. Brookins died on Dec. 1.
The service, both joyful and poignant, offered the theme of faithfulness, served as the glue binding Brookins’ dedication to Faith, family, his friends, military service and fraternity, and his encore career at the AFRO American Newspapers.
“Extra, extra, read all about it,” shouted Dr. Renee’ Allen who commenced the service in a joyous reference to Brookin’s three-decades as the AFRO’s Circulation Director and General Manager..
Allen, who moderated Saturday’s service in honor of Brookins, echoed the sentiments of many friends and acquaintances of Brookins from the countless civic and community causes he championed in the D.M.V., earning him the nickname of “Mr. DC.”
Brookins, born in Benton Mississippi, relocated to Washington, D.C. in 1989 after a 20-year career with the U.S. Army, where he served on bases in Europe and Asia- earning the rank of Major while working as a Signal Corps Officer, the Army’s communications and information systems division.
Brookins remained faithful to his military roots, connecting with the Joint Base Myer Henderson Hall Gospel Service (JBM-HH Gospel Service) community when he moved to the area. Members of the JBM-HH Gospel Service and members of Brookins military family served as touch points throughout the service.
“He gave his all to the organizations of which he was a member,” said Conrando Morgan, Colonel, U.S. Army (retired) and Brookins’ Omega Psi Phi fraternity brother.
“On behalf of a grateful nation and fraternity, we salute you,” Morgan stated before turning toward Brookins’ casket to render a final salute.
“What he said would ultimately change your life,” commented his significant other Pamela Jenkins, who met Brookins shortly after his youngest daughter, Ciera, died from complications of lupus in December 2016.
Jenkins noted Brookins’ consistent involvement in causes uplifting the Black community and impeccable organizational skills, ensuring event details were handled meticulously.
“Everything that he used to do here, he is coordinating up in glory,” Jenkins reassured those gathered.
Andrea Young, former longtime writer for AFRO American Newspapers and Micha Green, current D.C. Editor, attested the reassuring manner in which Brookins served as mentor for a wide variety of young professionals – and especially young writers. Young, who started her writing career with the social pages of the AFRO said Brookins expanded her vision.
“No, you’re going to write about everything,” Brookins told Young, steering her toward a broader vision as he did for Green and several others who paid tribute to Brookins on Saturday.
“I loved listening to Mr. B. because I’d learn so much from his stories and way of thinking. He gave great, balanced advice- and was so intentional about each word,” Green said in a written statement read at the service.
Brookin’s oldest son, Dexter Brookins, marveled at his father’s life-long impact on his journey and choices. The younger Brookins said his early life was not on a path of progress when his father told him,“the military was not interested in non-achievers.” He said his father cast a vision for him to earn his PhD. – an aspiration the younger Brookins thought for many years, was elusive.
“But I never forgot that advice,” said Dr. Dexter Brookins, who recently earned his PhD. at Jackson State University in Higher Education Administration- “hearing my father’s advice.” Brookins also followed his father’s footsteps in military service as a US Army Officer and of course… in service as a life member in Omega Psi Phi.
Sylvia Cyrus, Executive Director of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALAH) attested to the many ASALAH sponsored events Brookins promoted to the community, including an annual Black History Month celebration he inspired and helped coordinate at the Myers Military Base.
Statements were acknowledged by Congressman Bennie Thompson, (D-Miss); D.C.Mayor Muriel E. Bowser; Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks; Evelyn Higginbotham, President of The Association of African American Life and History; The Lambda Gamma Gamma Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Prince George’s County Chapter; University of Arkansas Pine Bluff D.C. Alumni Chapter and many others.
Eulogist R. Scott Dingle, U.S. Army Deputy Surgeon General encouraged celebrants to, “stay focused, get to it and get it done,”- lessons he observed from Brookins’ life.
“You know how Edgar was,” Dingle proclaimed to the audience who laughed knowingly.
“You know how organized he was. Oftentimes you don’t realize when you have a bridge builder in your life. It’s just what brother Brookins did,” Dingle said.
“He was all things to all people. He wasn’t in it for his gain; it was for the gain of Christ,” Dingle concluded.
After a brief prayer, family, fraternity brothers, and members of the Joint-Base Myer-Henderson Hall Gospel Service gathered at the front of the sanctuary, escorting Edgar Allen Brookins from Memorial Chapel at Ft. Myers Military Base, one final time.
Edgar Allen Brookins will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.