Brown, Willie L. (Willie Lewis), Jr., 1934-

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Willie Lewis Brown Jr. (born March 20, 1934) is an American lawyer and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, Brown served over 30 years in the California State Assembly, spending 15 years as its speaker. He later became mayor of San Francisco, the first African American to hold that office. The San Francisco Chronicle called Brown "one of San Francisco's most notable mayors", adding that he had "celebrity beyond the city's boundaries."

Born in Mineola, Texas, Brown graduated from Mineola Colored High School before earning his B.A. degree from San Francisco State University and J.D. degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1958. He spent several years in private practice before being elected to the California Assembly in 1964 in his second attempt. Brown became the Democrats' whip in 1969 and speaker in 1980. He was known for his ability to manage colleagues and maintain party discipline. According to The New York Times, Brown became one of the country's most powerful state legislators. His long tenure and powerful position were used as a focal point of the California ballot proposition to limit the terms of state legislators, which passed in 1990. During the last of his three allowed post-initiative terms, Brown maintained control of the Assembly despite a slim GOP majority by gaining several Republicans' support. Near the end of his final term, he left the legislature and became mayor of San Francisco.

Brown served as mayor from January 8, 1996, to January 8, 2004. His tenure was marked by a significant increase in real estate development, public works, city beautification and other large-scale city projects. He presided over the "dot-com" era at a time when San Francisco's economy was rapidly expanding. Brown's administration included more Asian-Americans, women, Latinos, gays and African-Americans than the administrations of his predecessors. Term limits prevented him from running for a third term and he was succeeded by a political protégé, Gavin Newsom. Brown then retired from politics.

After leaving the mayor's office, Brown considered running for the State Senate but ultimately declined. From January through September 2006, he hosted a morning radio show with comedian Will Durst on a local San Francisco Air America Radio affiliate. He also does a weekly podcast. On February 5, 2008, Simon & Schuster released Brown's hardcover autobiography, Basic Brown: My Life and Our Times, with collaborator P. J. Corkery. In retirement, Brown continued to participate in fundraising for and advising other politicians.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn University of California, Berkeley. Institute of Governmental Studies. [San Francisco, Calif. runoff election, 1995 (Dec. 12), mayoral candidates Brown and Jordan : campaign ephemera and newspaper clippings]. Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley
referencedIn Quinn, T. Anthony. Staff member, Office of Assembly Speaker; Chief Consultant for Elections and Reapportionment, Assembly Republican Caucus; and Fair Political Practices Commissioner. 1941-. Oral history interview with T. Anthony Quinn, 1991. Transcript. / ByDonald B. Seney, California State University, Sacramento for the State Government Oral History Program, California State Archives. California State Archives
referencedIn Catalogue II of the Regional Oral History Office, 1980-1997 Bancroft Library
creatorOf Achtenberg, Roberta. [San Francisco, Calif. election, 1995 (Nov. 7), mayoral candidates, Achtenberg, Alioto, Brown, Jordan ... [et al.] : campaign ephemera and newspaper clippings]. Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley
referencedIn Harvard Law School Forums Records Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn Gann, Paul, 1912-1989. Oral history interview with Paul Gann, 1987,1988. Transcript. / by Gabrielle Morris, University of California, Berkeley for the State Government Oral History Program, California State Archives. California State Archives
referencedIn Monterey Public Library. California History Room. Government-California clippings 1984-1994 Monterey Public Library
referencedIn Campaign Data Service, Inc. records, 1964-1979 California Historical Society
referencedIn Ralph, Leon D. Oral history interview with Hon. Leon D. Ralph, 1991 : oral history transcript / by Arlene Lazarowitz, Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton, for the State Government Oral History Program, California State Archives, 1993. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Hart, Gary K., 1943-. Oral history interview with Gary K. Hart : oral history transcript : California State Assembly 1974-1982, California State Senate 1982-1994 / by Christopher J. Castaneda. California State Archives, State Government Oral History Program, [2001] UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn National Land for People collection, Bulk, 1972-1983, 1850-1991 Special Collections Research Center, California State University, Fresno
referencedIn Lancaster, William H., 1931-. Oral history interview with William H. Lancaster ... oral history transcript 1994-1995 / by Enid Hart Douglass. California State University, Sacramento
creatorOf Southern Elections Fund. Papers, 1965-1975 of the Fund and of the chairman of the Board of Trustees, Julian Bond [manuscript]. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn University of California, Berkeley. Institute of Governmental Studies. [Assembly Speaker's Office contests, 1974 to 1981, candidates, Berman, Brown, McCarthy and Moretti : newspaper clippings]. Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley
referencedIn Heslop, Alan, 1938-. Oral History interview with Alan Heslop 1994. Transcript. / by EnidH. Douglass, Claremont Graduate School for the State Government Oral History Program, California State Archives. California State Archives
creatorOf Ammiano, Tom. [San Francisco, Calif. election, 1999 (Nov. 2), mayoral candidates, Ammiano, Brown, Jordan, et al. : campaign ephemera and newspaper clippings]. Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley
referencedIn University of California, Berkeley. Institute of Governmental Studies. [1994 contest between Willie Brown and Jim Brulte for Speaker of the California Assembly : newspaper clippings]. Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley
referencedIn Portraits of University of California individuals and groups, ca. 1850-[ongoing] Bancroft Library
creatorOf Brown, Willie L. Willie L. Brown speeches, 1973-1990. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Tanner, Jack Edward, 1919-2006. Jack Edward Tanner collection, 1900-2001 bulk 1955-1990. Washington State Historical Society
referencedIn Guide to the Daily Worker and Daily World Photographs Collection, 1920-2001 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Brown, Willie L. First among equals : California legislative leadership, 1964-1992 / Willie Lewis Brown ; with an introduction by John De Luca ; interviews conducted by Gabrielle Morris in 1991 and 1992. University of California Berkeley Law Library, Boalt Law Library; McEnerney Law Library; BerkeleyLaw Library
referencedIn University of California, Berkeley. Institute of Governmental Studies. [San Francisco, Calif. election, 1999 (Dec. 14), mayoral runoff election candidates, Ammiano and Brown : campaign ephemera and newspaper clippings]. Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf The HistoryMakers Video Oral History with The Honorable Willie L. Brown The HistoryMakers
Relation Name
associatedWith Ballis, George Elfie, 1925-2010 person
associatedWith Ballis, Maia person
associatedWith Bancroft Library. Regional Oral History Office corporateBody
associatedWith Bancroft Library. Regional Oral History Office. corporateBody
associatedWith Brown, Edmund G. (Edmund Gerald), 1905-1996. person
associatedWith Brown, Jerry, 1938- person
memberOf California. Legislature. Assembly corporateBody
associatedWith California. Legislature. Assembly. Speaker's Office. corporateBody
associatedWith Campaign Data Service corporateBody
associatedWith Communist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith De Luca, John. person
associatedWith Democratic Party (Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Gann, Paul, 1912-1989. person
associatedWith Hart, Gary K., 1943- person
correspondedWith Harvard Law School Forum corporateBody
associatedWith Heslop, Alan, 1938- person
associatedWith Jackson, Jesse, 1941- person
associatedWith Lancaster, William H., 1931-. person
associatedWith Monterey Public Library. California History Room. corporateBody
associatedWith Moretti, Robert, 1936- person
associatedWith Morris, Gabrielle S. person
associatedWith Murphy, Joanne. person
associatedWith Quinn, T. Anthony. Staff member, Office of Assembly Speaker; Chief Consultant for Elections and Reapportionment, Assembly Republican Caucus; and Fair Political Practices Commissioner. 1941- person
associatedWith Ralph, Leon D. person
associatedWith San Francisco (Calif.). Mayor. corporateBody
alumnusOrAlumnaOf San Francisco State University corporateBody
associatedWith Southern Elections Fund. corporateBody
associatedWith Tanner, Jack Edward, 1919-2006. person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf University of California. Hastings College of the Law. corporateBody
associatedWith Unruh, Jesse, 1922-1987. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Mineola TX US
San Francisco CA US
Subject
Occupation
State Assemblyman--California
Lawyers
Mayors--California--San Francisco
Soldiers
Activity

Person

Birth 1934-03-20

Male

Americans

English

Information

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