Ricky Jones: What happened to the brilliant Quintez Brown? | Opinion

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Quintez Brown is accused of trying to kill Craig Greenberg. Let that sink in.

In one of the most bizarre experiences of my life, I received news from a few friends in media before it went public that Quintez Brown allegedly shot at Craig Greenberg. I had to process that. What?! Quintez shot at Craig? Yes, Quintez allegedly shot at Craig. Apparently (allegedly) Quintez Brown went into Craig Greenberg’s mayoral campaign office, shot directly at him multiple times and, thankfully, missed.

It was all so unthinkable!

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For The Opposing View, read "The attempted murder of mayor hopeful Craig Greenberg is a reckoning moment for Louisville"

By the evening of the incident, local and national news outlets began reporting there was an “assassination” attempt on a Louisville mayoral candidate. Quintez was painted as an “activist” who was very involved in Louisville’s Breonna Taylor protests. Some mentioned that he interned with The Louisville Courier Journal. Others didn’t. Initially, almost none (save The Courier Journal itself) noted that he was a student at the University of Louisville.

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Many will now see Quintez as little more than a pariah tainted by venom and his study of nationalism and Pan-Africanism. He’s already being characterized that way and everyone from local media to the NRA are piling on. They will freeze him in time as nothing more than a vicious criminal and potential killer undeserving of any love or consideration.

They will not talk about the fact that Quintez was among the minority of young Black boys who make it to college. They will not talk about the fact that he wasn’t just a student, he is gifted beyond description. They never sat with him. They never spoke with him. They never saw him smile or troubled by the suffering of others. I did.

I met young Quintez Brown when he was in high school. He was a star! He didn’t strike me as a kid who would yearn to attend an Ivy League school. He was too good and conscious for that. I pictured him going off to an elite HBCU like Morehouse or Howard. I was surprised when he stayed at home and attended the University of Louisville. He said he felt called to remain at home. “Help is needed here, Doc. We can’t all leave,” he smiled. He was so incredibly committed to his hometown.

Activist Quintez Brown
Activist Quintez Brown

Quintez took classes from me and spent a good amount of time sitting in my office talking about everything from classwork to life. He even pledged my fraternity. I cannot overemphasize the promise of this young man.

I was in awe reading his Courier Journal columns. I often told him that I wish I could have written as well as him at his age. He was incredible! No, Quintez Brown isn’t simply a wayward “activist” turned assassin as he is now characterized by many. He was one of the most brilliant students I’ve ever taught.

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And then ... something terrible happened to him. I don’t know what. I wish I did. All I know is we lost him. There is more-and-more talk about mental health these days. Quintez is a stark example of what we can lose to psychological breaks. We have temporarily lost that great mind, that potential, that love, joy and commitment. We lost it all ... hopefully, not forever.

Everybody loved Quintez Brown when he was regarded as the high-achieving golden boy. To be sure, many will now disavow him. As the old saying goes, “success has many fathers; failure is an orphan.” Let me be clear, what Quintez did was wrong, but I for one will not run from my relationship with him and toss him on the scrapheap of humanity now that he’s fallen from grace.

I feared Quintez dead last year when he disappeared for almost two weeks. No public explanation was given when he was found, and his family released a statement asking for privacy. I respected that and waited for him to find his way back to me on campus. He never did. I’ll never forgive myself for not aggressively reaching out and pulling him close. That is a painful regret I’ll carry to my grave.

I hurt for the brother on the other end of the gun, too.

I’ve known Craig Greenberg for some time and count him as a friend. We travel in some of the same circles. His son’s best friend is the older brother of one of my daughter’s best friends. He is a co-owner of Ohio Valley Wrestling along with our friend Matt Jones. I blow off steam at OVW where I perform as a wrestling manager from time to time. It was Craig’s and Matt’s idea. It’s one of my great joys.

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I just had lunch with Craig a few weeks ago. We laughed, talked about politics, wrestling, our children and life. He is a good and decent man. In the aftermath of being shot at, a clearly and understandably shaken Craig had mercy, talked about Quintez getting help, and the continuing need to put real gun-control and mental health initiatives in place.

He did all that after almost losing his life. What a man. I can’t imagine what Craig is going through or the mark it will leave on him. I’ve had guns drawn on me twice in my life, but triggers were never pulled. Craig wasn’t so lucky. He was actually shot at! Thank God, no bullet found its mark.

It seems that Quintez Brown allegedly shot at Craig Greenberg. Only the Lord knows why. I can’t understand it. They would have loved one another if they had known one another. It is a shocking and sad story in every way and my heart breaks for them both. God help us all.

Ricky Jones.
March 14, 2019
Ricky Jones. March 14, 2019

Dr. Ricky L. Jones is professor and chair of the Pan-African Studies department at the University of Louisville. His column appears bi-weekly in the Courier-Journal. Visit him at rickyljones.com.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: What happened to the brilliant Quintez Brown?: Ricky Jones