Alex Brown being presented with the Flag Honor (courtesy)


On Sunday, July 3, 2022, Black Stuntmen’s Association (BSA) member Alex Brown along with fellow BSA members, Calvin Brown, Henry Kingi, Marge Ryan-Kreeger, Kym Washington-Longino and Richard Washington, was honored with a ceremonial flag raising over the United States Capitol in Washington, DC.   

 This honor was announced from the office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and the United States Department of Treasury. 

 Brown says of the honor, “There are only a few of us still alive and we work hard to preserve our legacy.  It feels great to be honored this way.” 

 A respected stuntman and BSA founding member, Alex Brown has been an advocate for his brothers and sisters in the Hollywood stunt industry since 1967.   

 Other founding members of the BSA included Eddie Smith, Ernie Robinson, Willie Harris, Henry Kingi, Joe Tilique, and William Upton.   

 Established in 1967, the Black Stuntmen’s Association trained African American stunt workers and fought for their rights against unfair policies preventing them from getting work at Hollywood studios. 

 It all began for Brown when he moved from his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida to Los Angeles.  He attended college at Florida A&M and was in the marching band.   

 When he arrived in Los Angeles, he worked as a messenger at the Los Angeles Wave Newspaper where he was eventually promoted to layout manager, back when the industry was still using the printing press. 

 His good friend, Eddie Smith, was helping African Americans get jobs as “extras’ in motion pictures during the Civil Rights era.  Brown was one of them and he eventually became a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). 

Brown says his supervisor at the Wave told him, “If things don’t work out, your job will be right here waiting on you.”  Brown never went back.  

Instead, he began riding with the Buffalo Soldiers, an all-Black horse-riding club, with actor Woody Strode.  The club was named after the historical Buffalo Soldiers and would become the organization from which the BSA was formed. 

Brown remembers those first few years practicing in Athens Park and drawing the notice of local Los Angeles authorities.   

“We would get a lot of attention from local police officers because we were out there throwing punches, falling off the back of benches and rolling on the ground.  They didn’t know what was going on,” says Brown. 

That’s how the BSA began training stunt performers.  Their advocacy began with a long practice of Caucasian stunt workers “painting down” or putting on “blackface” to stand-in for African American actors. 

“We began fighting and protesting the motion picture industry and we went to Washington DC to get the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) to support us in our efforts and we just kept fighting until things changed,” says Brown. 

Another charge led by the BSA was the hiring of Black stunt coordinators.  Stunt coordinators are hired by television and film production companies to cast stunt workers.  This position was very important to the hiring of not only stunt performers, but especially Black stunt performers. 

“We eventually broke through for Black people to get hired in these jobs [stunt coordinators], so we could get more of our people in,” says Brown. 

The current flag honor is just one way the BSA’s work has been remembered and celebrated.   

They are also on exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. 

In addition to his activist work with the BSA, Brown has enjoyed an illustrious slew of credits in film and television.  He had a recurring role as Ernie Shabazz in “Everybody Hates Chris” and as Al White in “The District.” 

His long list of stunt performing in films include “Dirty Harry,” “Live and Let Die,” “Cleopatra Jones,” “Black Belt Jones,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Brubaker,” “The Dogs of War,” “The Sword and the Sorcerer,” “Rocky III,” “The Color Purple,” “Coming to America,” “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka,” “Devil in a Blue Dress,” “Vampire in Brooklyn,” “Beloved,” “Halloween,” “Halloween II” and so many, many more.   

Brown retired from stunts over 10 years ago, but remains active in keeping the rich history of the BSA alive.   

“We are more of a figure-head group now, but these young people know who we are especially if they get in trouble and need us,” he said. 

And just like the legendary Buffalo Soldiers of history, the Black Stuntmen’s Association will show up to save the day.