Former runway model Monique Brown is a game-changer. Much like the way her husband-the great Jim Brown-has been able to reshape people’s lives, Monique wants to make a difference. Like her husband, Monique sees the need to help individuals into being more productive members of society.
As the behind-the-scenes partner of the AMER-I-CAN Program, Monique has been steadily building what her Pro Football Hall of Fame husband started in 1988. Taking a queue from watching Brown transform lives through the outreach and mentoring program, Monique has carved out her own niche of a brand that teaches self-responsibility and self-discipline.
Instead of reaching out to street gangs, which Brown has done for years, Monique touches young women and tries to build up their self-esteem. Instead of going after the professional, white-collar worker worrying about self-fulfillment, Monique speaks to and educates young girls about the significance of holding on to their self-identity.
Monique Brown is no stand-by participant in her husband’s mission to make this world a better place. Her engagement has been an added boost to what AMER-I-CAN does in transforming lives.
“This is extremely important,” Monique said. “This is what I am here to do. It is in my soul. I have been called to do what I do. It is something that has always been in my heart ever since I was little: helping people, helping society. I have a love of nature…it always relates. There is no beginning and end. It all flows together.
“God is everywhere. I’m constantly working on myself to do better. Years ago, when I met my husband, I knew that it was my job to help him to do what he did, to do what he does. As I got involved, I got affected by the curriculum, and the power of it.”
The AMER-I-CAN Program originally dealt with wayward youths caught up in the fast lane of crime and street life. South Los Angeles gang members became an essential audience Brown reached out to. But after a while, reformed gang members weren’t the only clientele looking into the life management skills program. Upwardly mobile professionals wanted in as well.
AMER-I-CAN is bigger than Brown’s rugged 6-foot-2, 230 pounds iron-rock frame. It’s bigger than all the records he set on the football field. It’s a lot bigger than his longtime successful film career. AMER-I-CAN is a growing national movement with global ambitions to re-shape people’s mindset about themselves and others.
“The curriculum is the Bible as a product that we have created that brings about great results,” said Brown, who led the league in rushing eight of the nine years he played in the NFL. “See, with AMER-I-CAN, the more you move away from me and deal with the principles the more powerful and effective it will be. There is no agenda. Almost everything has an agenda that limits it to being explicable to every human being. There’s an emphasis on caring, caring about people-not money and power and Super Bowls and whatever.”
With offices now in multiple U.S. cities and several countries such as Belize, Ghana, and Tanzania, AMER-I-CAN is now on the world stage. Now that AMER-I-CAN has gone to the international market, Monique has helped in leading the charge for the program to expand its outreach to women and children in foreign nations.
AMER-I-CAN’s success overseas has been so startling that the Browns have taken part in the Global Peace Summit, sharing information about the program to worldly dignitaries. One reason AMER-I-CAN and its curriculum have drummed up so much interest is the openness of its doors.
The boundaries of the program have evaporated from sit down, weekly meeting between gang rivals to incorporate the corporate executive, those who are incarcerated, wives, professional athletes and just about anyone from all walk of life.
Brown has long had this global vision to help others find their space in life. His first steps towards achieving that goal actually came some time ago when he formed the Negro Industrial Economic Union during the 1960s to empower African Americans in regards to the way they looked and handled their financial and economic situations.
Brown expanded his self-help vision by conceiving the idea for AMER-I-CAN.
“That has always been in the back of my mind,” Brown said. “The principles are global. The principles are universal. It is based on principles. It’s not based on money. It’s not based on power. It’s based on human development. There are two things you’re asking a person to do and this to make a better life for yourself and then help other people. That’s the only thing we ask. The first part of the job was to educate the disenfranchised and the poor, and to walk in the land of the predators and get them to start understanding their roles in changing their lives.”
Monique, in watching Brown illustrate this down through the years, has gotten the whole picture herself, even going through the 15 chapter, 60 to 90-hour course to get a better understanding on the impact of the program. It also explains her husband’s passion to making lives better, she said.
“What I see is that if he touches one life, if he touches one person-that drives him,” Monique said. “If one person connects and really feels something…that’s what he does. He bridges gaps. By going through program it changed my life in ways I never anticipated. This is one thing that amazes me to watch how he is able to take someone from the highest level and put them in a room with someone from the streets…what amazes me is how he gets people to understand we all want the same thing. We all want to be loved and getting to inspire.”
Brown is just complimentary of the involvement of his wife and how much it means to the program.
“Her role is monumental,” Brown said. “She’s touched a lot of people. She’s a people’s person. She has a great personality because she loves people. The journey is forever. You can never reach all of the people in need. There are so many people in need. So many people are suffering. We’re all on this journey and we should work together.”
The backbone of the program’s philosophy is to make these individuals look at their lives and re-examine their way of thinking about people, about life and how they perceive the way they want their lives to be. Monique said there is no room or time for AMER-I-CAN participants to have pity-parties.
“We take that negative influence and empower them, train them to deal with their conditioning, to deal with their families, to deal with their childhood and take that same energy they have to turn it into a positive,” she said. “It transcends gender, race and economic status. This is a program for everyone. The common concern in the group is that each person helps the other get better.”