This biography of the Most Honorable Queen Mother Dara Iman was accessed from the Franklin J. Barone Funeral Home website.
Dara is the first daughter of Claude Benjamin Brown & Mary Elizabeth Walker-Brown born in South River, New Jersey on April 4, 1937. At the age of eight the family moved to New York City in the heart of Harlem on 126th Street and 2nd Avenue. She attended New York City public elementary schools and went to Julia Richmond High School.
In the mid-1950’s until the early 1970’s she and her late great husband, singer, actor, activist, minister, Yusef Iman (Joseph “Rocky” Washington), owned and operated several businesses in Harlem and Brooklyn, New York. They had five children and were heavily active in the civil human rights, Black Power and Black Arts movements.
Through the powerful and positive influence of Minister Malcolm X, they joined the Nation of Islam in 1963 and she was named Doris 7X. Her husband was renamed by Minister Malcolm to be Yusef which is his birth name, Joseph and Iman, meaning faith. During this time, Dara became very close to Min. Malcolm’s wife, Sister Betty Shabazz as well as when Dara attended Medgar Evers College in 1979 and Sis. Betty was an Administrator. They were everlasting wonderful Sisterfriends.
When Min. Malcolm left “the Nation” in 1964 and formed the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), Dara and Yusef joined him. After the unfortunate passing of Min. Malcolm, the Black Arts & Black Power Movements went full steam ahead with progressive activism in the name and spirit of the “Powerful 3M” (Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X & Martin Luther King).
In 1966, Dara & Yusef joined the Black Arts/Power Movements with LeRoi Jones, renamed Amiri Baraka who opened the Black Arts Repertory Theatre in Harlem to promote revolutionary theatre, art, poetry, songs and dance. They also had their children involved in all aspects of conscious cultural activism.
After the Black Arts closed in 1967, Amiri opened up the “Spirit House” in his hometown, Newark, NJ. Dara & Yusef performed and traveled with Baraka as the Spirit House Movers and sang on his Jihad recording “Black & Beautiful, Soul & Madness.” Acknowledging the power and greatness in being of African descent, Doris was renamed Dara which means “beautiful” in the Yoruba language and Arieen to symbolize her astrological sign, Aries.
In 1969, they joined the East organization in Brooklyn, NY and Dara worked in the affiliate operations, Uhuru Sasa School, the nursery, Imani Child Care and at the East Jazz sets. She also assisted in developing their own family performing group, the Weusi Kuumba Troupe which means Black creativity in Swahili. The East sponsored the troupe to perform revolutionary poetry, African dance and conscious theatre in Guyana, South America, the Caribbean as well as local programs throughout the United States. Dara tirelessly worked, sewing many of the costumes, cooking and giving comfort to everyone while on the road and she would still perform. She even took in some of her younger relatives to help give some guidance and proper direction in their life.
After her children left “the nest” and started their own families, Dara went on to continue her education. She attended Medgar Evers College and received her Liberal Arts degree in 1985. She then went to Brooklyn College to study Psychology. In 1986 she transferred to City College and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 1991. Upon receiving her academic credentials, Dara began working with the NYC Board of Education as a teacher. She also was trained in home health care for the elderly at BHRAGS Home Care, Inc. She received her credential in this capacity with the highest honors and began work immediately. She developed many close relationships with some of the patients she compassionately cared for and was a comforting strength for many of the family members when the elders made their transitions.
Dara also worked with Creative Tutoring Inc., in Plainview, NY and tutored students on all grade levels. She uplifted, guided and empowered our youth with love, kindness and respect. Dara is a great woman/mother/daughter/sister/wife/friend who genuinely lived according to the scripture, “To whom much is given, much is required.”(Luke 12:48). She has given much and would give purely and genuinely. Dara was a beautiful blessing to many who were all honored and grateful for her “Endless Love.”
Dara, our deeply beloved Queen Mother leaves to celebrate her life, Children: Ife x Iman (Doris Jean), Malika Iman (Mary Louise), Daughter-in-law: Jackie Billingslea. Predeceased: Baba Saladeen Iman (Joseph Jr.), Olugbala Iman (Lincoln Marshall), Oba Iman (Carver King). Grandchildren: Malik Olu Killingbeck, Omar Killingbeck, Khalil Killingbeck, Dara Killingbeck, Pamoja Allen Billingslea, Yusef Joseph Billingslea, Iman Masekela Inde, Adia Fana Adamma Stanley, Shani Zuri Wakanda Stanley, Carver King Jr., Great Grandchildren: Ira Pearson, Jr., Zaliyanna Gaye, Imani Inde, Alanna Inde, Nasir Iman, Magaye Iman Gaye, Zakayah Abraham, Jamel S. Wallace, Jr., Dajon Jr., Madison, Dillion, Dejore, Demora. Great-Great Grandchildren: Raymond, Lena, Brandon, Tyler, Chazsiti. Brothers and Sisters: Louis Brown, Robert Brown, Linda Percy, Willie Brown, Joyce Brown, Muriel Alston and a vast host of nieces, nephews and cousins. Predeceased: Claude Brown, Jr. Richard Brown, Evelyn Brown, Sylvia White, Elaine Jackson, Norma White.