Hoover Institution Fellow Wants Alum Willie Brown in California Hall of Fame

Friday, July 27, 2018

SACRAMENTO BEE -- The reasons why: First, California’s political class is badly under-represented in this cross-section of notables. Four governors are among the hall’s 113 inductees, but not a single member of the Legislature. Brown, who served 30 years in the Assembly (including a record 14 as speaker) before tacking on two terms as San Francisco’s mayor, is suitably titanic in his historic significance.

Second, African-American representation is skewed toward athletes. The choice of Brown — not only the Assembly’s first black speaker but a living link from the civil rights era to Barack Obama’s ascent — helps correct that myopic view of the contributions of black Californians.

Third, if anyone embodies the “California Dream,” it’s the stylish, kinetic, glad-handing Brown. He came to California from Texas in 1951, working as a janitor while attending San Francisco State University. Armed with a law degree, Brown had to endure the Bay Area whipsaw of segregations and a lack of a Stanford or Berkeley pedigree. So he started his own law firm, and his family’s own bitter taste of racism sparked a passion for activism and public service.

And fourth reason, these days, he’s the closest thing California Democrats have to an elder statesman able to see through the fog of the war against Donald Trump. On Sundays, a column from Brown appears in the San Francisco Chronicle with rare pragmatism.