RICHMOND -- Rodney "Alamo" Brown is a history buff who grew up in a world of vinyl records and break-dancing. Despite the old-school pedigree, his latest creative impulse was hatched on the archetypical modern platform.
"I started sharing with my friends on Facebook about two years ago," Brown said. "Just little stories about successful Richmond people, just to be positive, and the feedback was overwhelming."
Brown learned about dozens more people as social media friends shared information. Soon he decided to produce a book dedicated to highlighting the best and brightest who have come from the so-called city of Pride and Purpose.
"If My Eyes Could Rewind: The Real Richmond, California story," is a 104-page paperback featuring 78 people with ties to Richmond. The book is organized into five chapters, each named after a prominent local street, and has more than 60 original photos from around the city.
"It's mostly organizing all the material I have produced and shared, into a presentation that puts the city in the most positive light."
There are local heroes and global stars most people don't know have a connection to Richmond, among them:
Brown, 47, has his own story of fame. He grew up in the Pullman Housing Projects in South Richmond, and before age 20 had established his a record label, Globetown Records. In 1986, he released a hip-hop record titled "The Task Force," which sold more than 70,000 copies.
After several years living in Hawaii, Brown returned to his Richmond roots earlier this year with "new eyes," he said. Walking around his childhood home on Wednesday, Brown said he has a deep love for the city.
"I remember in 1985 we had a party here in the projects that brought thousands of people. We called it 'Day on the Globe,' on the fliers," Brown said. "Back then, people didn't worry about what neighborhood you were from."
Brown said that in his research he found a dearth of books about contemporary Richmond history.
"I think this book will fill a niche," Brown said.
Tracy Chriss, an attorney, was one of Brown's friends who urged him to compile his research into a book. She calls Brown a "diligent explorer of history" who "starts his days on the computer researching and writing at 6 a.m."
"I saw all the snippets on Facebook, the volume of work, and I envisioned it as a book right away," Chriss said. "It's interesting and inspiring to read about people who came out of your neighborhoods and did great things."
John Ozenberger, 75, a former Richmond California Democratic Council president and longtime resident, said a book spotlighting famous Richmond natives is "a great concept."
"This city has enough history to fill a library," he said.
The book will be available on Amazon.com in early September, and Brown has a series of speaking and book signing events scheduled for the coming months. For schedules and more information, visit www.rodneyalamobrown.com.
Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726. Follow him at Twitter.com/roberthrogers.