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Source: NY Times
The Rev. H. H. Brookins, a retired bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church whose role as a civil rights leader and a political kingmaker was clouded by accusations of financial chicanery, died on Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 86.
Michael Ellison-Lewis, a spokesman for the church, announced the death.
Bishop Brookins marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the South; helped start the political career of Tom Bradley, a five-term Los Angeles mayor; was a principal strategist in the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign; and in 1990 prayed with Mayor Marion Barry of Washington when Mr. Barry was convicted of drug possession.
“A whole generation of us, in some sense, grew up under the bishop,” Mr. Jackson said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times in 1985. “He has the touch, the green thumb.”
As a young minister and then a bishop in Los Angeles, Bishop Brookins helped start and was president of the United Civil Rights Council, an umbrella organization of 75 groups, which helped the black community recover from the Watts riots in 1965. Starting with a building fund of $8, he built a multimillion-dollar church and called it a cathedral. It grew to 19,500 members.
He did it all with such style that he came to be called the Hollywood bishop. He rallied stars like Bob Hope and politicians like Robert F. Kennedy to his causes, and organized the first interfaith service at the Hollywood Bowl. His spirited preaching, from whispering in the valleys to roaring from the mountaintops, was renowned.
He drove a Mercedes-Benz and made the best-dressed lists of Ebony and Jet magazines. He smoked, drank and told off-color stories. Bishop Brookins had a knack for getting to the point in a pithy way. “Everyone has a right to be equal, even in mediocrity,” he told The Los Angeles Times.
He called Mr. Jackson’s 1984 presidential bid “the best thing since ice cream.” READ MORE