Niqua Graham-Brooks’ love of the Browning community started when she was in the seventh grade.
Graham-Brooks is a Greenwood native. Her family lived in Greenwood and then moved to Bay Springs — where her mother is from — when she was about 5 years old.
“That’s where I spent my elementary years,” she said.
Her family moved back to the Greenwood area when Graham-Brooks was in junior high.
“That’s when my journey started in loving Browning. When we moved back to Greenwood, we moved to Browning,” she said.
Graham-Brooks serves the community that she loves as president of the Browning Progressive Civic League. She’s only the second president in the Civic League’s history.
Browning is one of the oldest historically African American communities in the area, and the league was established in 1961 as a way to keep the community thriving after the Browning Vocational School was closed.
It was organized by five people — the late Laura Graham, Graham-Brooks’ grandmother; the late Georgia Moore, her great-aunt; Thelma Sims; Walter Ware; and Claudine Brown, the league’s first president.
The Civic League is known best in the Greenwood area as the host and sponsor of the annual Browning Community Labor Day Festival.
“I can remember as a child going to those Labor Day festivals, and we would stay all day long,” Graham-Brooks said.
As a child, she didn’t know yet what that event meant to the Browning community. But as she grew older and after moving away and returning home, she began to learn more about its importance.
She was hesitant when her grandmother first asked her to become a member of the Civic League.
“Then eventually as I became more involved with it, I started seeing the ins and outs of what the Browning Progressive Civic League was really about. My grandmother would always say, ‘Don’t let this entity go down, because it has done so much for the Browning community.’”
As president, Graham-Brooks continues to build on the league’s legacy.
Keeping it going is “imperative as the younger generation of those who came before us,” she said. “It’s also equally imperative for the community, to do it for the community in which we live, which we have a very strong history, to make sure that the Browning Progressive Civic League stays in existence.”
Graham-Brooks is a 1990 graduate of Amanda Elzy High School.
After high school, she enrolled in the “educational oasis of the Delta, better known as Mississippi Valley State University,” where she studied early childhood education.
A couple of years later, Graham-Brooks decided to take a break from school and work for a while. Then, she moved to Wichita, Kansas.
“While I was in Wichita, Kansas, is when I found my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” she said.
Graham-Brooks moved back to her hometown in 1998. She started working as manager at McDonald’s. Then she went to work at Walmart in customer service and next as assistant manager at Fred’s.
In 2005, she became a readmit student at the Delta’s “educational oasis,” MVSU. She began studying public administration and graduated in 2008.
“As I was talking with relatives and trying to decide at that point in my life where I needed to start my education, we came up with public administration,” she said.
It was a natural fit, since most of her work experience included management positions and working with the public.
Graham-Brooks decided to further her education at Valley and enrolled in the school’s rural public policy and planning master’s degree program. “I finished and graduated in 2010,” she said.
In 2013, she was accepted into Jackson State University’s urban and regional planning doctorate degree program. She has completed her coursework and is working on her dissertation.
From 2010 to May of this year, Graham-Brooks worked as Gilliam Head Start Center’s assistant administrator. She returned to Valley during that time and added 18 hours in early childhood education.
Now, she’s focusing on finishing her dissertation.
She’s also leading a drive-by voter registration drive, sponsored by the Browning Progressive Civic League. Those who would like to register to vote in the Nov. 3 election can call her (392-1055), and Graham-Brooks will meet them and help them register to vote.
Graham-Brooks is an active member of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, pastored by the Rev. Kenneth Milton. She serves as the church’s assistant secretary and is also a member of the Missionary Society.
In her spare time, she enjoys watching football and cheering on her favorite team, the New Orleans Saints. She also enjoys watching historically Black colleges and universities — including her alma mater, MVSU, and her current school, JSU — play.
“I love football,” she said.
Graham-Brooks also loves spending time with her family. She is the daughter of George and Mary Graham of Greenwood. She has two brothers — the late Capt. Michael Averell Graham, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and the Rev. George Dexter Graham of Rankin County.
She has a host of nieces and nephews who visit her often.
“My home is their home away from home,” she said.
• Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7235 or email@example.com.