Dellums, Ronald V., 1935-

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Ronald V. Dellums and His Congressional Career

(This history has been adapted from information published on two World Wide Web sites: Dellums' entry on (, and Dellums' biographical sketch from The Institute of International Studies at the University of California, Berkeley (

Ronald Vernie Dellums was born on November 24, 1935 and lived most of his life in Alameda County, California. Following high school, he joined the Marines and was discharged in 1956. After his discharge Dellums went to college under the GI Bill, earning an AA ffrom Oakland CIty College (1958), a BA from San Francisco State College (1960), and a Master of Arts in Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley (1962). He worked as a psychiatric social worker for the California Department of Mental Hygiene before being elected to the Berkeley City Council in 1967. Dellums was elected to the House of Representatives in 1970 and served in 14 Congressional Sessions until his retirement on January 3, 1999. During his tenure in the House, Dellums held several leadership positions. Significant leadership positions included service as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), and as a member of the House District of Columbia Committee and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the latter of which he co-founded. Dellums has taught at San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley. He is presently the Mayor of Oakland, California.

A known pacifist and socialist, Dellums was noted throughout his congressional tenure for his strong views regarding peace through diplomacy and disarmament. As the chair of the HASC, he was a driving force behind a great amount of anti-aggression legislation. Examples of legislative peace initiatives include his opposition to the deployment of the MX ICBM missile. Funding for deployment of the missile was rejected by Congress in 1976 and again in 1981. In 1985 Dellums was responsible for supporting Congressional rejection of the deployment of the second wave of the missile system. The MX missile program was eventually scrapped by the Air Force. Other peace measures included limiting funding for production of the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, spearheading legislation that culminated in no new acquisitions of the bomber following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1995. He came into the position of chair of the HASC via seniority and lost the position when the House switched control to a Republican majority following the 1994 elections.

Important foreign policy activity initiated by Dellums focused on social justice. Dellums' firm stand against, and Congressional leadership in the ending of, U.S. support for the apartheid government in South Africa culminated in the passing of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. The bill had significant bipartisan support and was able to override a presidential veto from Ronald Reagan. Domestically, Dellums initiated and cosponsored legislation favoring civil liberties, the environment, and affirmative action. Another significant domestic policy contribution was the National Health Service Act. WHile untlimately vetoed, the Act has remained a significant model for the development of other comprehensive health policy initiatives.

While Dellums enjoyed many successes during his congressional career, he was not without detractors. A major controversy in his early career resulted from an official visit to Grenada in 1982 at the invitation of socialist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. Grenada was contructing an airstrip that Based on his visit, Dellums felt that Grenada posed no threat to the United States, sentiments that were later contradicted by a diary recovered following a U.S. Marine invasion stating that the airstrip in Grenada "will be used for Cuban and Soviet military." Compounding this was a letter from one of Dellums' chiefs-of-staff, Carlottia Scott, to the leader of Grenada, declaring Dellums' commitment to Grenada and admiration of Fidel Castro (only mentioned by first name). Conservative opponents considered these sentiments and Dellums' actions "treasonous". There were also allegations brought against him and one of his aides, John Apperson, regarding marijuana and cocaine use. Following an eight-month investigation, the allegations were dismissed based on lack of evidence.

When Dellums retired as Congressman in 1999, he did so with accolades from several of his fellow Congressmen and Congresswomen, including tributes from Representatives Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA), Danny Davis (D-IL), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Tom DeLay (R-TX). Following his retirement from Congress Dellums worked as a lobbyist for a variety of companies and industries, some of which garnered public criticism. He announced his candidacy for Mayor of Oakland, California in October 2005. Following a two-week contentious ballot counting process, Dellums was unofficially announced Mayor-elect on June 16, 2006, winning with 50.18 of the vote. As of January 1 2007, he is serving officially in that capacity.

From the guide to the Ronald V. Dellums Congressional Papers, 1971-1999 inclusive, (African American Museum and Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.))

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn David R. Bassett Papers, 1963-2004, 1972-2000 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn University of California, Berkeley. Institute of Governmental Studies. [California general election, 1982 (Nov. 2), Congressional District 8 candidates, Dellums and Hutchison : campaign ephemera and newspaper clippings]. Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley
creatorOf Mitford, Jessica, 1917-1996. Papers, 1949-1973 (bulk 1961-1973). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn The, Daily Worker, and, The Daily World, Photographs Collection, Bulk, 1930-1990, 1920-2001 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn University of California, Berkeley. Institute of Governmental Studies. [California primary election, 1994 (Nov. 8), U.S. House candidates, Baker, Bono, Dellums, et al. : newspaper clippings]. Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley
referencedIn National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing (1950- ). Archives 1945-1974. Tulane University, Amistad Research Center
referencedIn University of California, Berkeley. Institute of Governmental Studies. [California general election, 1992 (Nov. 3), 9th congressional district candidates, Dellums, Hunter, et al. : campaign ephemera and newspaper clippings]. Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley
referencedIn Floyd B. McKissick Papers, 1940s-1980s University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Sound Recordings of Meetings and Telephone Conversations (Nixon Administration). 2/16/1971 - 7/18/1973. Sound Recordings of Meetings and Telephone Conversations. 2/16/1971 - 7/18/1973. White House telephone tape number 2
referencedIn Anglada López, Rafael, 1950-. Papers, 1936-2002 ; bulk: 1970-1980. New York State Historical Documents
referencedIn Jessica Mitford Papers TXRC91-A11., 1949-73 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Ronald V. Dellums Congressional Papers, 1971-1999 inclusive African American Museum and Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
referencedIn Anglada López, Rafael 1950-. Papers, 1936-2002 ; bulk: 1970-1980. Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenos
referencedIn Bassett, David R., 1928-. David R. Bassett visual materials. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Anglada López, Rafael, 1950- person
associatedWith Barnett, Ida Nell person
associatedWith Bassett, David R., 1928- person
associatedWith Black Panther Party. corporateBody
associatedWith Communist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Halterman, H. Lee person
associatedWith McKissick, Floyd B. (Floyd Bixler), 1922- person
associatedWith Mitford, Jessica, 1917- person
associatedWith National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing (1950- ) corporateBody
associatedWith United States.Congress.House corporateBody
associatedWith United States.Congress.House.Committee on National Security corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Berkeley (Calif.)
United States
Oakland (Calif.)
Black power--United States
African Americans--Politics and government
Primaries--California--Case studies
Civil rights movements--United States--History--20th century
African Americans--Civil rights
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Atrocities
Black militant organizations--United States
Legislators--United States--Biography
Political participation--United States


Birth 1935




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