By Kathy Chouteau
Richmond community advocate Rodney ‘Alamo’ Brown was recently named a finalist for the Black Joy Parade and Comcast’s “Icons Among Us” honor.
The recognition, associated with Black Joy Parade’s February parade in Oakland, celebrates community activists from throughout the Bay Area’s nine counties who have been engaged in social equity work—primarily focused on and benefiting the black community—for a minimum of seven years and who are linked with an official (preferably nonprofit) organization.
Brown joined eight fellow nominees as a finalist for the honor, including: Socorro ‘Cori’ Moreland, founder/CEO of Brotherhood510; Janelle Luster, cultural practitioner; Precious J. Stroud, founder and principal at PJS Consultants; Jennifer Braddock, CNM, MS manager, Midwifery Services, Highland Hospital; Laniece Jones, executive director, Peralta Colleges Foundation; Dr. David C. Isom, St. Stephen CME Church; Adamaka Ajaelo, founding executive director, Self-eStem; and Milan Balinton, executive director, African American Community Service Agency.
Ajaelo, Jones and Balinton were named the 2022 Icons Among Us winners and received $5,000 for the nonprofit of their choice.
“The Bay Area is flooded with iconic people doing important work to uplift our black communities,” said the Black Joy Parade and Comcast in a joint statement on the nonprofit’s website. “Our top [nine] finalists impressed us with their passion, impact and length of service.”
While Brown was not among the final three contest winners, his work in Richmond is well known and regarded. Brown said his nomination came as a complete surprise in the form of an email and that his nominators cited his work as founder of Soulful Softball Sunday in Richmond. While many locals are familiar with the annual event at Nicholl Park, Brown describes the community event as being not only about softball, but also about “atonement and reconciliation and bringing hope back into the fold.” Brown added that it also allows the participants “to be kids again” while playing softball with each other and sampling the soulful dishes that everyone contributes to the occasion.
He said that last year Soulful Softball Sunday happened in October due to the pandemic; this year he anticipates it will return in August.
Brown, who was born in Berkeley, raised in South Richmond and graduated from Kennedy High School, has worn many hats throughout his years in Richmond and beyond.
While earlier in life his roles spanned the gamut from rap record/label company owner to barber to professional baseball scout (Tampa Bay Rays & Atlanta Braves) to Sons of Funk road manager to movie set worker in Hawaii (50 First Dates) to music promoter and more, since returning to his hometown in 2013, his focus has turned decidedly altruistic.
Since his return, he has dedicated his life “to the service of our neighbors in need as a community volunteer and a public servant,” according to his bio, which adds that he has also been “a stellar advocate, a passionate community activist and tireless servant for programs that promote family self-sufficiency and unity.”
While he works with numerous community organizations to help inform residents about food, jobs, housing and services, notably, Brown was responsible for helping to organize nine churches to serve 2.5 million meals for West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) children, per his bio.
In the last seven years alone, he is also responsible for creating 75 free events for Richmond residents. In his professional life, Brown works as a wraparound facilitator with underserved youth and families and also as a freelance sports writer recapping UC Berkeley football games for CBS Sports Digital Media.
Brown shared that, while he has been nominated for awards in the past, he was “really excited” that this one drew from a pool of nominees from throughout the Bay Area. “I thought that was cool of them to do that,” he said of those who nominated him.
Learn more about Black Joy Parade and Icons Among Us here.