Follow the Browns' lead

Library gift: Eddie and Sylvia Brown are trailblazers, sharing their blessings with Enoch Pratt.

November 10, 2001

WITH THEIR $1 million gift, Eddie C. and Sylvia Brown have become the biggest donors to Baltimore's public library since Enoch Pratt's original 1882 bequest.

An African-American collection bearing their name will be housed in a Central Library annex that is to be built in 2004.

The Browns' generosity comes just eight months after their $6 million grant to the Maryland Institute College of Arts. It's just one of the Glen Arm couple's growing number of recent donations to institutions they cherish in their adopted city.

In his long career as a fund manager and as a panelist on the Wall Street Week program, Mr. Brown has shown himself to be a canny stock picker. Similar thoughtfulness guides the couple's charitable giving.

Many of their gifts have an African-American dimension, including the Walters Art Museum's new gallery of Ethiopian art. But evident also is their desire to have that dimension better represented in mainstream institutions that cater to the entire region's rich palette of ethnicities.

Their donation to the Enoch Pratt Free Library is in the same vein. The improved African-American collection will benefit all intrigued minds in the region, regardless of race. Thus it will not only nourish reading Baltimoreans but also will strengthen the library as one of the metropolitan area's key resources.

The fearful events of the past two months have underscored the importance of books as sources of reflective inspiration and hope. Through their gift, Eddie and Sylvia Brown have shown their faith in Baltimore's - and Pratt's - future.

Theirs is an example other Baltimoreans will want to emulate.

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