Ms. Brown was born into poverty in the Mississippi Delta. As a young woman, she came to California and began a new life by working during the day and attending College at night while she raised a family of three lovely daughters and held a managerial position at Blue Cross Insurance Company where she supervised 55 employees.
Owning her real estate office in Oakland was not enough. Ms. Brown purchased Cobbler's Restaurant and became the Head Chef and Manager. She also embarked upon marketing her popular desert, Oral Lee's Famous Peach Cobbler.
Mrs. Brown’s difficult start in life and her religious faith has led her to believe in helping others and “giving something back” to the community. She is a member of the Harmony Missionary Baptist Church, the Oakland Community Housing Resource Board, the Oakland Board of Realtors, Associate Real Property Brokers and Cal-Pak Association. Oral has also served as Commissioner for the Alameda County Assessment Appeal Board for eight years.
In 1987, Mrs. Brown made a tremendous commitment towards “giving something back”. She adopted the entire first grade class at Brookfield Elementary School located in East Oakland. She deposited $10,000 into a trust account and created the Oral Lee Brown Foundation. She continued to deposit $10,000 each year into the Foundation’s trust account, making a commitment through 1999. The money is used for College expenses for the students. Not only is she supporting the children financially for their future education, but she meets with the parents on a regular basis and mentors the students. Mrs. Brown sponsors an annual Scholarship Gala that celebrates the graduating students of the Oral Lee Brown Foundation each year. Of the original twenty-three students, nineteen graduated high school and went on to college. In the second phase there were twenty students, eighteen enrolled in college. In phase three eighteen students were in the program and eighteen are enrolled in college. The students are juniors and will graduate next year.
Over the years, Mrs. Brown has received many awards, plaques and media coverage nationally and locally for her commitment to her adopted students. Mrs. Brown was named Woman of the Year for the year 2000 by Senator Don Perata and Assemblymember Audie Bock, was honored at the Black History Month Awards sponsored by Union Bank of California and KQED, was selected as among the "Ten Most Influential African Americans in the Bay Area", the "Diamond of the Bay Award for Community Service" by the National Basketball Wives Association, "California Lottery Award ", "The Pioneer Achievement Award" by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, the "Humanitarian Of The Year" by the East Bay Agency for Children, and the "John Stanford Education Heroes Award" by the U.S. Department of Education. The Minerva Award 2010, Bank of the West Community Award(2011) and inducted into Alameda County Hall of Fame (2102). She has been featured in People, Glamour Magazine (3) times, Ebony and Essence magazines and seen on ABC Later Today, NBC Nightly News, Extra, CNN, Courage, and Channels 2, 4, 5, & 7. Ms. Brown has a billboard in Times Square (1527) Broadway.
Ms. Brown holds an Associate of Arts degree from Laney College, A Bachelor of Science from the University of San Francisco, A Bachelor of Arts degree from Hawaii and an Honorary Doctorate from Columbia College, Merrimack College in Boston and University of San Francisco.