It was Nov. 4, 2008, and Douglas Charles Brown Sr. had taken off of work and decided to have his son drive around South Central Los Angeles. That day, Brown saw more people lined up at the polls than he had ever seen for an election since he first started voting back in 1978. It was important to Brown that his son be able to witness the election of the first African- American president of the United States.
Now, eight years later, Brown is facing a presidential election that he described as choosing between the "lesser of two evils." For Brown, his strong connection to education and his own background were the driving forces behind his decision on which candidate to support.
In his 20-plus years of experience as an educator, Brown has seen just about everything. Working with high school students, first through recreational leisure studies and currently as principal of operations for Centennial High School in Compton, he knows firsthand the improvements that need to be made to make the education system better.
"I came through a K-12 system, which did not prepare me for college. But because of the special programs that they had I was able to remediate in college, graduate, get a master's degree, get a teaching credential and end up a principal of a school," Brown, 56, says." I'm afraid that those programs might disappear in a Trump administration."
Brown believes that a vote for Hillary Clinton is more in line with his beliefs and what he hopes to see change in the long-term, especially as far as education is concerned.
"When a student graduates with a high school degree, that high school degree should say that this student is prepared to take on certain opportunities whether it's post-secondary education, or employment," Brown says. "But a lot of our students, especially in public schools, are graduating without the skills needed to properly take advantage of those opportunities."
For Brown, the decision to vote for Clinton was also because he describes himself as a diehard Democrat. He attributes his political affiliation to his upbringing in LA and being a product of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
"My father wasn't there. [I was] raised by my grandparents and my mom. [My mother] raised us to go to work and get an education. So the programs that were allowed to exist during those times, which were liberal Democratic-supported programs, are why I continue to vote Democrat," Brown says.
Besides education, Brown feels that certain issues like immigration and social justice also were important when he was assessing the candidates.
"I do understand that you can make the argument that that population is undocumented and they're here illegally. But they haven't done anything wrong. They have contributed to what we call the United States and to just arbitrarily say, 'You know what? Now you have to go.' For me that's a problem," Brown says.
Brown understands that the next president will likely appoint at least one Supreme Court justice and those appointments last a lifetime. For Brown his vote could impact not only his life, but also the lives of his 28-year-old and 21- year-old children.