Hawkins, Augustus F., 1907-2007

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Augustus Freeman Hawkins (August 31, 1907 – November 10, 2007) was a prominent American Democratic Party politician and a figure in the history of Civil Rights and organized labor. Over the course of his career, Hawkins authored more than 300 state and federal laws, the most famous of which are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1978 Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act. He was known as the "silent warrior" for his commitment to education and ending unemployment. Hawkins emphasized throughout his career that “the leadership belongs not to the loudest, not to those who beat the drums or blow the trumpets, but to those who day in and day out, in all seasons, work for the practical realization of a better world—those who have the stamina to persist and remain dedicated." Hawkins remained devoted to this principle throughout his life, dedicating himself to reform.

Hawkins was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, the youngest of five children, to Nyanza Hawkins and Hattie Freeman. In 1918, the family moved to Los Angeles. Hawkins graduated from Jefferson High School in 1926, and received a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1931. After graduation, he planned to study civil engineering, but the financial constraints of the Great Depression made this impossible. This contributed towards his interest in politics, and his lifelong devotion to education. After graduating, Hawkins operated a real estate company with his brother and studied government. While serving in the California State Assembly, Hawkins married Pegga Adeline Smith on August 28, 1945. Smith died in 1966, and Hawkins later married Elsie Taylor in 1977.

Hawkins was part of a more general shift by African Americans away from the Republican and towards the Democratic Party. Unlike the majority of African Americans, he supported Franklin D. Roosevelt's campaign for president in 1932. Hawkins favored measures such as the New Deal, which was wildly popular in the United States at large and the African American community in particular. Roosevelt would go on to be the first Democratic president to win the black vote, in 1936. In 1934, Hawkins supported the more controversial 1934 California gubernatorial election of Upton Sinclair, a socialist. Although Sinclair lost, Hawkins defeated Republican Frederick Madison Roberts, the great-grandson of Sally Hemings and President Thomas Jefferson and the first African American in the California State Assembly. Hawkins would serve as a Democratic member of the Assembly from 1935 until 1963, by the time of his departure being the most senior member, like Roberts before him.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Records of the Council of Economic Advisers (Carter Administration). 1976 - 1981. Charles L. Schultze's Briefing Book Files. 1977 - 1981. Briefing Book: Humphrey-Hawkins [Bill] Testimony, 9/20/79
referencedIn Records of the Council of Economic Advisers (Carter Administration). 1976 - 1981. Charles L. Schultze's Subject Files. 1977 - 1981. Humphrey-Hawkins Bill: Meeting w/Congressman Hawkins 9/29/77
referencedIn Records, (inclusive), (bulk), 1959-2002, 1966-1998 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Pittman, Tarea Hall. Tarea Hall Pittman papers, [ca. 1950-1971]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Hahn, Kenneth. Collection of Kenneth Hahn, circa 1945-1993. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf NONMUSIC RECORDING (COLLECTION) Audio materials, 1956-1977 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Audio materials, 1956-1977 [sound recording]. Library of Congress
creatorOf Augustus F. Hawkins Papers, 1935-1990 University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
referencedIn National Organization for Women. Records: Series I-XVI, 1961-1999 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Rees, Thomas M., 1925-. Oral history interview with Thomas M. Rees, 1987. Transcript. [electronic resource] / by Carlos Vasquez, University of California, Los Angeles for the State Government Oral History Program, California State Archives. OCLC Econtent Synchronization Program
referencedIn Records of the Council of Economic Advisers (Carter Administration). 1976 - 1981. Charles L. Schultze's Briefing Book Files. 1977 - 1981. Briefing Book: Humphrey-Hawkins Bill [1-3]
referencedIn Loren Miller papers, 1876-2003, 1932-1966 Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery
creatorOf Hawkins, Augustus F. Papers, 1935-1990. University of California, Los Angeles
referencedIn Guide to the Daily Worker and Daily World Photographs Collection, 1920-2001 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Records of the Council of Economic Advisers (Carter Administration). 1976 - 1981. Charles L. Schultze's Subject Files. 1977 - 1981. Humphrey-Hawkins Bill [1-12]
referencedIn Records of the Project on the Status and Education of Women (Association of American Colleges), (inclusive), (bulk), 1969-1991, 1971-1985 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Miller, Loren. Papers of Loren Miller, 1876-2003 (bulk dates 1932-1966) Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary. 1976 - 1981. Presidential Files. 1977 - 1981. 2/12/80 [2]
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf The HistoryMakers Video Oral History with The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins The HistoryMakers
Relation Name
memberOf California. Legislature. Assembly. corporateBody
associatedWith Hahn, Kenneth. person
associatedWith Miller, Loren person
associatedWith Miller, Loren. person
associatedWith National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. corporateBody
associatedWith National Organization for Women. corporateBody
associatedWith Pittman, Tarea Hall. person
associatedWith Project on the Status and Education of Women (Association of American Colleges) person
associatedWith Rees, Thomas M., 1925- person
memberOf United States. Congress. House. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Congress. House. Committee on Education and Labor. corporateBody
alumnusOrAlumnaOf University of California, Los Angeles corporateBody
almaMaterOf University of Southern California. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
District of Columbia DC US
Bethesda MD US
Los Angeles CA US
Shreveport LA US
Subject
African American legislators--Archival resources
Occupation
State Assemblyman--California
Representatives, U.S. Congress--California
Real Estate Executive
African American legislators--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources
Function

Person

Birth 1907-08-31

Death 2007-11-10

Male

Americans

English

Information

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