Yvonne Brown is the mayor of Tchula, Miss., a small town in the Delta. Once in office she went to Washington and asked for a $10 million grant and got $5 million.
"We're getting ready to build a $1.6 million dollar municipal complex. How does a community of 2300 folk with no industry, 19 percent or higher unemployment rate do that? It's a God thing," said Brown, speaking to business leaders in Lauderdale County.
Brown and her minister husband, Robert, live in an abandoned grocery store building.
"We gutted it out. Thirteen hundred square feet of that is our apartment. The rest of it, almost 5,000 square feet, we use for a ministry," Brown said. "We allow people to come in and have meetings. We have Vacation Bible School. We've had as many as 50 people sleeping on the floor, mission teams to come and minister to the community. People say how do you do that with no money? It's a God thing. I make $600 a month as mayor. My husband gets what he gets when he can get it as a pastor."
Brown summed up her speech to the Meridian business community with thoughts about her town and her career.
"God has called us to this community to make a difference and I want to challenge you that, yes, we're about jobs, about education and technology. That is what's going to move Mississippi forward. But more than anything else, it's about being reconciled man to man, man to God. It's about your relationships with one another," said Mayor Brown.
Brown is also chair of the legislative committee for the Black Mayor's Conference.
The February Business Before Hours of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation was sponsored by Greater Meridian Health Clinic and dedicated to Black History Month.