Tuesday 19 February 2013

VIDEO: The Godfather's Last Giveaway

A few weeks ago I published an article titled 'The Big Payback', all about James Brown's little-known humanitarian work and his family's efforts to carry it on since his death on Christmas Day 2006. In the article I wrote about how Mr Brown's last ever public appearance, three days before his death, was at his annual Christmas toy giveaway.

Yesterday my friend Ron sent me some footage I had never seen before of Mr Brown at the giveaway. Shot by an Augusta news station, it is the last known video of the Godfather of Soul.

I was struck by one poignant exchange.

"Mr Brown," says the reporter, "you've been doing this for 15 years and even when you're not well, you always come out and give back."

"Well," replies Mr Brown, "I come out because I want to do this. It's a duty as a human being, a duty as a citizen of this country."

As it turned out, Mr Brown wasn't just 'not well'. He was dying of pneumonia. Less than 72 hours later, the world had lost him. He had been visibly deteriorating for a number of months (in the video he looks unusually thin and sounds unwell, as he had done since October 2006) but despite his condition, he still made sure he was there to hand out those Christmas presents to the most needy children in his community.

I thought that was pretty inspiring. Here's the video.