E. Cabell Brand has been called many things: Chairman of the Cabell Brand Center, international development consultant and social activist, creator of TAP (Total Action Against Poverty) and Head Start in the Roanoke Valley, bank director, World War II captain and founder of the Stuart McGuire Company (later sold to Home Shopping Network). Nowadays, Brand is also a current or former board member for more businesses and organizations than can be listed in this article.
Now in his 80’s, the father of eight (with wife Shirley), Brand is still going strong. Late last year he released a memoir that detailed many of his experiences, “If Not Me, Then Who? How you can help with Poverty, Economic Opportunity, Education, Healthcare, Environment, Racial Justice, and Peace Issues in America.”
Brand will sign copies of the iUniverse book this Saturday, May 30, from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm at the Tanglewood Mall Barnes & Noble. All proceeds from the book go to support scholarship programs.
Brand, a VMI graduate, left the State Department in the late 1940’s to enter private business – making the decision then that he would spend 20 percent of his time (one working day a week), “doing things to strengthen our society. There were so many things that needed to be done.”
World War II left an indelible impression on Brand, who wanted to “do things to have a strong society so we didn’t have to have wars. I wanted to see everybody in our society participating,” Brand said. He calls war, in general,“terrible and unnecessary.”
In the book, he tells about enlisting then-President Bill Clinton to help get a social program funding cut reversed.
Early on Brand helped start the Salem Rotary Club, and was involved with the Council of Community Services, before the opportunity to start TAP came about. “One thing sort of led to another,” he said.
The Head Start pre-K program, initiated by Brand, was the first real integrated school in Roanoke, back in the 1960’s, and he recalls a lot of opposition.
“There were an awful lot of people that didn’t want their children to go to school with African-Americans,” Brand said.
Now sporting white hair and using a cane, Brand is still a fixture at events around town, and at Democratic political functions. He makes no bones in calling himself “a liberal Democrat.” Brand has a simple credo when it comes to being a social activist: “if you make a commitment to spend time in the community, take advantage of the opportunities when they come.”
Cabell Brand will sign copies of “If Not Me, Then Who?” Saturday, May 30, from 1:00 -3:00 pm at the Tanglewood Mall Barnes & Noble.