News 12 at 11, November 19, 2007
BEECH ISLAND, S.C.-- Nearly a year after the death of the Godfather of Soul, his family and his widow gathered for his annual turkey giveaway--but for Tomi Rae Brown, the day was about much more.
It took two court orders for Mrs. Brown to even visit her husband's graveside and the home they shared, but she says the fight was worth it.
It started with a morning of celebration and prayer for Tomi Rae Brown
who pitched in at her late husband's annual turkey giveaway alongside his children and the Reverend Al Sharpton, but she says the togetherness ended here.
"I was praying all the time I hope this is real, I hope this isn't just for the cameras. Well the minute they went away, so did they." says Tomi Rae Brown.
She says it got worse when she went to Deanna Brown's home to visit her husband's graveside. "There is just a level of respect that is owed to a widow, or just a human being, that I'm not being given unless the cameras are on."
It was her first time visiting his grave since James Brown was buried in March. But Tomi Rae says the security guard there never left her alone with him. "It was just horrible, I wasn't even allowed to put the flowers that I brought on the grave and say a prayer in peace. She was staring down my back as if i was a criminal, as if i was going to walk out with the casket."
Next she headed to the couple's Beech Island Estate for her first time alone inside since being famously locked out by the estate's trustees.
"I got to take my time in my home and walk through each part of it and the memories and the feelings, it was just great."
She also took inventory and says clothing and memorabilia are missing so her fight for what she says James Brown wanted will continue.
"It's going to be the way he wanted it. He wanted me and little man to have it and he wanted education to have it and he wanted this to be a Graceland. He wanted to be buried on this property that's what he wanted and that's what im fighting for."
Tomi Rae says she didn't take anything from inside the home because she wanted it to stay as it is for that Graceland.
The battle for James Brown's estate continues tomorrow in Bamberg, and News 12 will be there. Stay tuned to News 12 for full coverage from inside the courtroom.