HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Dr. Robert "Bob" Brown was raised by his grandparents in High Point in the late 1930s.
"We were very poor. It was difficult,” said Brown.
His circumstances didn't stop him from doing what his grandmother expected.
"She said ‘whatever we get, we’re going to share it with everybody else.’ And that's the way I grew up and that's all i know and all I continue to do,” he said.
On a bus ride home from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Brown saw an ad in the paper for officers in High Point.
Days later he received a call from a police captain.
"He said you made the highest mark anyone has ever made on that test and he said 'We want to hire you as a policeman,’" said Brown.
This was an opportunity Brown couldn't pass up. In less than two years a letter from Washington opened up a bigger opportunity.
“Dear Mr. Brown I am writing you to tell you that were are appointing you as a federal narcotic agent and you will be stationed in New York City at Main and Church Street,” said Brown.
Brown worked as an FBI agent for about three years before heading back to High Point where he opened one of the first minority owned public relations firms in the country.
"When this whole civil rights thing came about my thing was to see if there was some way i could be helpful,” said Brown.
And he did just that. Brown saw an opportunity during the Greensboro sit-ins. On Feb. 1, 1960, four black students sat at an "all white" counter at Woolworth's. They were denied service.
Brown's company bridged the gap between corporate America and black communities. His success led to a meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who became one of his closest friends.
Brown also helped King meet with companies that did not want to hire people of color during civil rights.
"He thanked me profusely and prayed over me. I said ‘Martin, I'm so happy it worked out,’” said Brown.
A couple months later, Brown arrived at a chaotic Charlotte Douglas Airport.
Brown asked a man what was going on and the man said, "They just killed Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis.”
Brown said he was “stunned” when he heard about the news. Within several hours, King’s wife Coretta Scott asked for Brown’s help.
"Coretta wanted me to come back and go with her to Atlanta to pick up Martin's body,” he said.