Freedom

to 

Change a City

AJA BROWN

BORN: April 17, 1982

I am Aja Brown and I am Free to Change a City Compton, the small California city that gangster rap put on the map, is the birthplace of hip hop artists Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre, Tupac and others. Compton is known more for the Crips and Bloods than for a revolutionary young female trailblazing politician, but things are changing, and Aja Brown is leading the way.

You have to be able to see past your circumstances, you really have to be focused on what it is you’re trying to achieve. Aja wasn’t raised in Compton.

Her mother fled the city after her own mother, Aja’s grandma, was sexually assaulted and murdered there in 1970. In 2009, Aja moved back and in 2013, she made history as the city’s youngest elected Mayor at the age of 31.

Her revitalization strategy centers on 12 key principles that focus on family values, quality of life, economic development and infrastructure growth.

But she knew she could not do it alone, so she turned to the community reaching out to hip hop artists and ex gang members for support. Even though I’m the mayor, we all have an equal stake in this, and the team doesn’t work without each person being in place.

To address the safety issues in the city that stemmed from gang violence, Mayor Brown convened over 60 ex-gang members from rival neighbors to call for peace and community collaboration to create peace. She has a cool, calm reserve and a soft, measured voice. Her style of listening is quiet and intent, with an emphasis on empathy. Her mother says she’s always been that way. Its her authentic self.

"I’m very deliberate in making certain that people can see and touch me and make sure I’m real and see that my passion for the community is sincere."

Aja Brown was sworn in for her second term as Compton’s mayor last July. After taking her oath to serve another four years in office, the 35-year-old told the audience of 500- Onward.  It’s time to finish the work. If it isn’t about progress, it’s petty. Put it aside.

Aja Brown is a definitely a SmartGirl!

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