Handpicked, accredited and mentored exclusively by Hall of Fame Original Highwaymen Johnny Lee Daniels. The 40-year veteran artist had no heirs that painted, “he asked his God niece AJ Brown to be his business partner” in his Highwaymen Art Gallery in Fort Pierce, Florida. Highest honors are credited to Daniels who bestowed his heritage and established her life as a Florida Highwaymen Artist 2nd Generation. Daniels has a respected 1950s traditional legacy of five non-blood close friends. Four men of the Historic 2nd Generation and female AJ Brown. She is a story untold.
The Highwaymen is a name earned later in the mid-90s, for the way the young entrepreneurs sold their art along the side of the road when museums and galleries would not showcase black art, during the Jim Crow Era. Twenty-six African American painters became a part of this movement. All men and the only woman of the original group began to paint in Fort Pierce and surrounding areas. During their heyday, the group captured and documented the state of Florida through vivid oil paintings, during the 1950s, ’60s, '70s, and today.
The legends were instrumental in forming the second movement. The iconic Florida landscape painters handed down their name, history, and heritage to their chosen 2nd Generation. Established in 1973 (just as the Originals) with friends, family, blood and non-blood the 2nd Generation is the generation after, typically twenty years younger who grew up during the Civil Rights Era.
Early Original, James Gibson, a 50-year veteran has a legacy. Gibson was the first to teach AJ Brown to paint the famous Red Royal Poinciana tree’s. After two years and a demanding schedule, he suggested she paint with Johnny Daniels, and so she did. The icons revealed stories of Highwaymen history and shared tales of their past! Over the years, legends witnessed as AJ Brown was endorsed as a member and is historically the only female friend among the "2nd Generation" group. What was once a common dynamic among the Original group, "friends" are now an old 1950s tradition, but a rare find as a female among both generations." Today, Brown refers to herself as the "Florida Highwaymen Historic Generation." Supported by four iconic early Originals, Brown's journey is one of uniqueness. HONORED TO BE PART OF AMERICA’S HISTORY!
May 2009, For decades the Highwaymen was a traditional informal group. It was historic when the first 501(c)3 organization formed and filed on June 24, 2009, under the name Florida Highwaymen Artist and History Center Inc., a name given by James Gibson. Curtis Arnett was elected as Vice President and the Treasurer was Carnell Smith. R.L. Lewis was elected Secretary; however, delegated his position to AJ Brown. The goal was to open a Highwaymen museum. AJ Brown was officially appointed the first Secretary. Brown was authorized to perform all significant duties and was a member of the By-Laws Committee. Original Highwaymen Ms. Mary Ann Carroll and First Lady held Presidency for two years, a position of prestige designated for the Originals. For the first time in history, both generations, the Originals, and the 2nd Generation unified!
In November 2009, the Originals agreed to continue to preserve Florida’s art history and included the 2nd Generation, Brown recorded each member. These historic facts marked a hallmark era in time. May 26, 2009, tragedy struck when the life of Johnny Daniels suddenly came to an end. His life’s work, endorsements, achievements, and legacy were rightfully sealed with his death. Hall of Fame Willie Daniels continued to paint with Brown, he supported his brother's legacy and her journey as a Highwaymen. The Daniels mother died young, leaving six, their eldest sister Ms. Curley Daniels extended her role as their mother and her love for her family. January 26, 2010, Ms. Curley's affection for Brown, and respect for her youngest brother, "Johnny Daniels legacy" their close friendship and business partnership, named AJ Brown as her Goddaughter, and as God family.
Critiria of a Highwaymen: African American AJ Brown is an official Highwaymen member. Over the years she was mentored, accredited, and endorsed by four Hall of Fame Original Florida Highwaymen Artists. Scholars of the 1950s, "The Early Original Highwaymen Historians," James Gibson, Johnny Daniels, Al Black, and Willie Daniels authenticated and endorsed one female, AJ Brown which continued over several years.
Appointed to serve as the first secretary and by-laws committee member, Brown constructed the Johnny Daniels gravesite monument, and wrote the Highwaymen story which appears on one side of the Highwaymen Trail "Obelisk monument" collaboration in Fort Pierce, Florida.
In May 2009, AJ Brown was authorized to construct Johnny's grave-site monument by his beneficiary Ms. Curley Daniels and commissioned by Cultural Affairs Manager, Jody Bonet. Brown offers a significant history and story to his legacy. In 2012, Fort Pierce City Hall, and Florida Humanities Council invested grant funds in the history of the Highwaymen. Created, through-out the city was the Highwaymen Trail, and the Highwaymentrail website attracts visitors worldwide. Highlighted and included on these monument trails are five; a 1950s tradition of unique close friends. These Historic Highwaymen who started as friends are members of the Johnny Daniels legacy. Highwaymen handed down history is a part of Florida's Highwaymen history.
AJ Brown's family roots began in Tallahassee Florida. Born in Virginia, raised in Miami, Brown's resides in Fort Pierce, Florida. From a long line of soldiers, warriors for their country, her family has historically devoted a lifetime of service and sacrifices to the brotherhood of the military, for the United States of America.
TO THOSE WHO LOSS THEIR LIVES, A HERO IS REMEMBERED!
Highwaymen History Lives On! The United States of America; Highest Office of the Land; December 25, 2014, AJ Brown meets the 44th President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama. AJ Brown hands down two of her paintings and a collection of Original and Historic Generation Highwaymen art to the First Family White House private collection.
An open invitation to this site is welcomed to discover unknown history. This site serves to honor, respect and unify; enlighten and open minds and hearts to the African American group, known as the Florida Highwaymen Artists. Several Original Highwaymen have mentored close friends and family. Established in 1973, the 2nd Generation can be known as the Florida Highwaymen Historic Artists. They continue to pave the movement, a road for the future generation. Thank you, America for investing and treating Highwaymen History of all generations as worthy.
For more than a decade AJ Brown was the only Highwaymen artist without an online presence. She shares her history and story, voice and character, her truth and contributions as a member of the Florida Highwaymen Art History.