Sept. 11 survivor to speak in Selma

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 31, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

A Dallas County native will be making a trip home Jan.1 to speak on love, struggle, history, and his life-changing experiences in New York for the 145th Emancipation Proclamation Celebration.

The observance, which will be held New Year’s Day at Little Rock Baptist Church in Selma, will feature Walter Brown, a retired New York Police Department inspector who is also a 9/11 survivor.

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Brown is speaking at the behest of his nephew, celebration committee president Roy Edwards, and will touch on life growing up as a poor boy in the South, the struggle for equality, and the changes he has seen in the South since he left.

Edwards described Brown’s life as a rags-to-riches story. After graduating from Keith High School in 1961, Brown worked on Florida and Virginia farms before making his way to upstate New York. He moved into New York City in 1964, married wife Susie, and would spend the next four decades of his life in the city’s boroughs.

He studied at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a school within the City University of New York and Cornell University as he launched a career with the New York Police Department.

He worked in several boroughs, including Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, where he spent most of his career, Brown said.

Brown was working in Manhattan near the Twin Towers on Sept. 11. &8220;I was sitting in a patrol car, and I happened to look up and see the building,&8221; Brown said. He could hear noise, a roar from the buildings collapsing. &8220;I jumped out of the patrol car and started to run. By the time I got a few feet away, the building had collapsed.&8221;

The car Brown had been in was crushed flat, and Brown collapsed under a pile of rubble and debris. He had to breathe through his mouth due to the sting from debris.

Brown dug his way from the debris with his teeth knocked out and hanging and his mouth, nose, and fingers bleeding. He was later taken to the hospital, treated, and released.

Since then, Brown has been to counseling. &8220;I still have nightmares about it once in a while,&8221; Brown said. Brown lost several colleagues that day, and said some people he worked with are still missing.