In Memoriam: Paul Brooks

Paul Brooks

1939-1989

Paul E. Brooks was born in 1939 in East St. Louis, Illinois. While a student at the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, he signed up for the first Freedom Ride in May 1961. That year he met and married fellow Freedom Rider Catherine Burke, and together they went to Mississippi to work for SNCC. They co-edited the Mississippi Free Press 1962-63, and moved to do fundraising for SNCC in Chicago in 1964. They moved to Detroit in 1965 where Paul invented the Afro-pick comb and opened a successful comb factory. Paul died in Detroit on February 21, 1989, age 50.

Paul Brooks
Freedom Riders Paul Brooks (left) and Jim Zwerg entering the Birmingham Greyhound Station in May 1961. The men were arrested for sitting together in the front of the bus as they entered Birmingham city limits on May 16, 1961.