Featuring: Kevin Brooks
Giver of Time, Tech Guru, Storyteller
Kevin Brooks helped anyone who needed it. He was one of the “sons” of Brother Blue – the same who would yell from the audience, “That’s my son!” As Kevin did not have a father growing up, Brother Blue filled in that spot. I had known the name “Kevin Brooks” but wished for my family to understand Kevin better. When both Kevin Brooks and Brother Blue were to be honored as part of the Sacred Storytelling put on by the Artists Standing Strong Together, I hooked up the laptop to the TV screen so that my kids could watch with me. When “Tomato Paste” was shared, my six-year-old daughter threw back her head with the most lovely laugh. She kept laughing throughout the whole piece. This pure delight was already a gift that Kevin Brooks gave my family.
Kevin knew how to tell stories to entertain and then have that deeper message. A moving piece is “Clearing the Pool” about how some black people could not swim and many drownings caused Kevin’s mom to insist on her family taking a swimsuit everywhere. Though, something else happened as a result. In the Playlist on YouTube featuring Kevin, you can find out the rest. Powerful…and under five minutes long.
Five minutes. Ten minutes. Thirty minutes. Besides the stories he told, he dedicated much time to people. Forget five minutes. Often, Kevin gave his whole day to people. As Kevin was known as a tech guru, he introduced many storytellers to how to use emails or websites or the importance of videotaping stories. Tony Toledo shared that one day his ex-wife, who was Deaf, needed help in filming. Kevin stayed all morning and would not accept payment. When Tony and his ex-wife insisted, he would only take a breakfast.
Joey Talbert, a great fiend of Kevin, had long conversations and heard some of those “nuggets” of his stories – like “Tomato Paste” – and hear them developed into signature pieces. The two of them did adaptive and personal storytelling with City Rain Player that still is talked about to this day.
When Kevin Brooks was with Laura Packer, they connected through Brother Blue and particularly the basement bookstore where Brother Blue held a safe space for people to tell stories. When it came Christmas time, a party was held and it was nicknamed “Kevin and the Jews” and “Diversity Challah” was served. Kevin and Laura would cut up and share the bread and Brother Blue gave the blessing. They invited everyone no matter if there was room in the intended space or not. Several times, the space had to be changed to accommodate the droves of people.
When Brother Blue passed on in November 2009, the Story Space that was held in-person and created by him, had to be continued. Kevin and Laura quickly volunteered to take it on before the Board for Story Space took it over from there.
And when things calmed down, Kevin was the kind of person who loved eating outside on hot summer days. He and Laura.
Then cancer came. Laura was by Kevin’s side. And then…sadness.
We can take comfort is so much that Kevin still has given us. Laura was kind enough to maintain Kevin’s blog to be active. Then MIT has a webpage for him.
Yet, what was obvious on Sunday, April 25, 2021 is that many people still honor this fantastic and inspiring person.
Do you have memories of him? Need to get to know him?
Laura Packer was kind to share pictures seen here as well as this ode to him:
Kevin Michael Brooks, Ph.D. passed away on March 28, 2014 in Kansas City Missouri, surrounded by friends and family.
Kevin came to storytelling almost 20 years ago. He became a member of Brother Blue’s storytelling circle and then incorporated storytelling into every facet of his life. This included his dissertation work at MIT and all of his subsequent employment.
He was a man who adored his children, Stephan, Cara, Kristoff and Vered Brooks. He was a dedicated partner, problem-solver, lover and supporter to his wife, Laura Packer. He was a son who made his mother, Carolyn Brooks, proud every day. He was a reliable and loving friend to many. He was a generous and creative co-worker at Hallmark Cards. And his stories made his audiences laugh, cry and rejoice in the world.
Kevin’s warm and welcoming storytelling performances chronicled the life of an African American boy as he grew to manhood and became a father, a swim teacher, a friend. His stories often featured his mother and his children. His work as a story coach helped many others deepen their own storytelling work.
Kevin will be deeply missed by all who knew him. His spirit lives on in all of us, every time we listen deeply, hug a friend, hold our spouse’s hand and look about ourselves with curiosity.
Here are some sites, videos, or writings of Kevin Brooks:
Another Dedication – https://kimpearson.net/kevin-michael-brooks-technology-storyteller/
His blog – http://wordsaboutwater.blogspot.com
His site saved by MIT – http://alumni.media.mit.edu/~brooks/ and from MIT Technology about him – https://www.technologyreview.com/2011/08/23/192163/the-storyteller/
Playlist on YouTube – 10 videos featuring Kevin Brooks – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcnH1tNxXZ4–LHox9ishDi_ZcHxNl2Lx
“Tomato Paste” told by Kevin Brooks – https://youtu.be/FoizIQaRiBA
Do you know a Story Artist who has passed on and want others to remember them? Memories? Pictures? You can submit names and memories of Story Artists who have passed on through our online form.
I appreciate Kevin Brooks for his generosity and his ability to find the most meaningful insights from everyday life. Thank you, Kevin.
Kevin still has a story. You have a story. We all have stories.