- 1 Education
- 2 Helped by Carlton Goodlett
- 3 Housing protest
- 4 County Attorney campaign
- 5 National Youth Caucus
- 6 "Emergency Conference of New Voters"
- 7 Cablegram to Portugese Socialists and the M.F.A.
- 8 South Africa benefit
- 9 Rainbow
- 10 Greeting Chris Hani
- 11 KPFA protest
- 12 Endorsed Communist Party fund raiser
- 13 People's Weekly World Banquet 2000
- 14 Honoring Harry Bridges
- 15 Honoring Cesar Chavez
- 16 References
Brown received his B.A. degree from San Francisco State University in 1955. He then moved downtown to Hastings, from which he graduated in 1958. While at Hastings, Brown was an active member of Phi Alpha Delta. He serves as the permanent president of the Class of 1958.
Helped by Carlton Goodlett
According to radical former San Francisco district attorney Terence Hallinan, an endorsement from Carlton Goodlett was important to the election of many political leaders. Goodlett helped to inspire and promote the political careers of Mayor Willie Brown, the late Representative Philip Burton, SenatorJohn Burton, and Representative Ron Dellums.
Willie Brown came into the public eye through a well planned incident.
Willie and Blanche Brown needed a home closer to his law office.Blanche was now the wife of an attorney, and she wanted a fitting place to raise a family. Toward the end of May 1961, she visited the Forest Knolls housing development on the western slope of Mount Sutro, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The homes were listed at $23,950 to $33,950, probably well beyond the Browns' financial reach.
Blanche and a friend, Dorothy Lincoln, looked at a model at Forest Knolls. She remembered that she and her friend stayed for more than three hours. "There was a house that was open, so just on a lark we said, well, let's go in and see. Let's go see the house. And as we went in, everybody ran out. They literally ran out of the house. They ran to the garage. We used the telephone and we called Willie, and he said just stay there and wait and see what happens. So we stayed there and we stayed there and finally they sent a black caretaker to close up the house. They said they were not going to show it anymore."
The events catapulting Brown into a public figure may not have started precisely the way his wife remembered thirty years after the fact. A now-defunct liberal news magazine, Frontier , reported at the time that Willie Brown visited the housing tract before his wife, and brought with him a photographer from Carlton Goodlett's Sun-Reporter , an indication that his motives extended beyond just house hunting. Frontier and the article's author, Stephen L. Sanger, had closer access to the NAACP at the time than many of the mainstream news organizations, and his report therefore cannot be discounted.
Willie Brown later portrayed what happened next as a spontaneous protest. The Associated Press called it "impromptu," but there was nothing impromptu about it.The next step was well-planned, brilliantly executed political theater. Brown turned a private humiliation into a public display that captured the imagination of an entire city. It was the first inkling that Brown's political talents were far greater than those of his mentor, Terry Francois, and could meet greater challenges than the stifling branch politics of the NAACP.
That Sunday, the Brown family went to church. Then the twenty-seven-year-old Willie Brown led his wife and two baby daughters to the housing development. They were accompanied by Terry Francois and a few other friends. The local newspapers were alerted well ahead of their arrival, and reporters were waiting when they got there. The sales representatives again disappeared, so the Browns and their friends sat down in the garage. They kept the development sales office closed for the day, and Forest Knolls was the butt of stories in the newspapers. A newspaper photograph taken that day shows Brown in a neatly creased suit leading his children by the hand to the housing development. They were the picture of a professional, middle-class family. How could anyone object to having them live next door? The photograph was a developer's nightmare and campaign manager's dream.
The tract was developed by Carl and Fred Gellert, whose Standard Building Company was the largest housing developer in the city.
In the days ahead the protest escalated, with Negroes taking turns being snubbed at the Forest Knolls development. Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson showed up and marched on the picket line. Whites also joined the protest, and it became a cause célèbre in San Francisco's liberal circles. Among those who joined Willie Brown's picket line was Dianne Berman, the wife of a prominent attorney. "My stroller bumped up against the heels of the man in front of me in the line, and it was Terry Francois," she recalled. Years later, as Dianne Feinstein, she became mayor of San Francisco and then a United States senator from California. She liked to tell the story that the bumping of the carriage was her first introduction to Francois and, through him, to Willie Brown. Throughout her career Feinstein enjoyed a mutually beneficial political friendship with Willie Brown, and it began on the Forest Knolls picket line.
There would be no police with dogs and firehoses moving on Willie Brown and his friends. Some of the city's most prominent citizens joined the protest. The future mayor, Feinstein, was the daughter of an illustrious surgeon, and her husband was in line to be a judge.
County Attorney campaign
National Youth Caucus
Over 250 students from 71 Northern California colleges gathered at a National Youth Caucus (NYC) conference Saturday in an effort to insure maximum representation of 18-24 year-olds at the 1972 Democratic National Convention. The conference was held at San Jose State College. A California Black Caucus also met Saturday at Garden Oaks School in East Palo Alto, drawing about 300 blacks from Northern California. Assemblyman Willie Brown (Dem—San Francisco) told the delegates that a solid concentration of black political power could give them considerable influence at the Democratic National Convention in Miami in July. He encouraged them to vote for a black candidate on the first ballot at the convention, no matter who they might actually be supporting. Rep. Shirley Chisholm (Dem—New York) is the only black candidate so far. Both meetings discussed youth representation at the February 12 district caucuses which each presidential candidate will hold to recommend a slate of pledged delegates and a representative to the candidate's state organizing committee.
Leading the Stanford delegation to the youth conference were ASSU Co-President Larry Diamond, Paula Johnson, Joel Kenwood, Connie Peterson and Zach Zwerdling. They are the five members of the central committee of Northern California's NYC Conference. Diamond also serves as State Chairman of the California NYC. Sen. Alan Cranston (Dem—Calif.) told the opening session of the conference that the NYC "can do a lot to shape the choices this nation and this state make next year." He added that he shared young people's "frustration over the way things are going", but that he also believed that "change can be achieved with a little more effort and organization."
Like Cranston, State Assemblyman Ken Meade (Dem—Berkeley) spoke of the power of young people in the elctoral process. Meade noted that in 1968 President Nixon carried California by 500,000 votes and that there will be at least 1.5 million 18-24 year olds casting their first votes in 1972. Taking these figures into account, Meade said that "without carrying California, Nixon would not have been elected President in 1968 and the youth vote assures that he will not win in 1972." He advised "Don't just work within the system, take advantage of it." San Francisco Sheriff Richard Hongisto claimed that "policemen are moving us towards a police state from the bottom all the way up to Attorney General John Mitchell." Hongisto, who has been a law enforcement officer for several years, was the upset winner in his race to be elected Sheriff last year. He urged his audience to "work to destroy those racist, sexist stereotypes of our decadent society." National Chairman of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) Allard Lowenstein, a former New York Congressman and organizer of the 1968 "Dump Johnson" movement, said that "four more years of an administration steeped in deception" would be severely damaging to "the whole fabric of freedom in this country."
Speakers at the closing session of the conference were state Assemblyman John Burton, former Stanford Black Student Union president Leo Bazile, and Yvonne Westbrook unsuccessful candidate last year for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
"Emergency Conference of New Voters"
In an effort to increase student power in electoral politics, an estimated 1600 Bay area students will gather November 18, 1971 at 8:30 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium to voice their opposition to President Nixon and the Vietnam War. Main speakers at the rally will be Republican Congressman and Presidential candidate Pete McCloskey, (R-San Mateo); former New York Congressman Allard Lowenstein (now Chairman of the Americans for Democratic Action); Senator Alan Cranston (Dem.-Calif.) and John Kerry, spokesman of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The "Emergency Conference of New Voters" is being organized by the student body presidents of 19 local colleges and universities to "ignite students into seizing the political process to change the country," according to ASSU co-president Larry Diamond. The student leaders feel that although President Nixon is winding down that war for middle class American college students, he is increasing the horrors for the victims of our bombing policy in Cambodia and the two Vietnams. They assert that the President has no moral justification for his policies and that he has been dishonest in presenting those policies and their effects to the American people.
In keeping with the goal of increasing student political power those attending the rally will have the opportunity to register to vote in California elections. Between 7 and 8 p.m., a preliminary conference will be held on registration laws and on 1972 convention delegate selection and party reform.. Explaining that the 19 colleges to be represented at the rally have 189,000 potential voters enrolled as students, a rally organizer warned President Nixon that "We've got the votes, we're getting organized and by 1972, we'll drive you out of office." In addition to the four main speakers, those scheduled to appear at the rally are Congressman Donald W. Riegle, Jr. (Rep.-Mich.); State Senate Majority Leader George Moscone; Assemblyman Willie Brown, (Dem.-San Francisco); Assemblyman John Vasconcellos (Dem.-San Jose); and Yvonne Westbrook, the 18 year old black woman who ran for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors this year.
The Conference is the twenty-fourth and last in a series of local rallies held across the nation since May in such diverse locations as Providence, R. 1.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Austin. Texas. ADA Chairman Lowenstein, who led the "Dump Johnson" movement after 1967, has been providing volunteer manpower to aid most of the local rallies. A national conference of new voters will be held at. Loyola University in Chicago December 3-5. A similar conference in 1967 endorsed Senator Eugene McCarthy's candidacy for President. The ASSU is now raising funds from private sources to send Stanford delegates to the Chicago conference.
Cablegram to Portugese Socialists and the M.F.A.
In 1974, after a pro-communist military coup in Portugal;
- More than eighty Americans, all identified with opposition to the Vietnamese war and with various radical and liberal causes, sent on August 9 a cablegram to to the Portugese Armed Forces Movement, to Portugese president francisco da Costa Gomes and to portugese socialist leader Mario soares expressing the hope that "democratic freedoms"...will continue to grow in Portugal".
Michael Harrington, the national chairman of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, organized the effort with help from 5 "Initiators" - Lawrence Birns (writer), Sissy Farenthold (past president National Women's Political Caucus), Congressman Michael J. Harrington, Martin Peretz (chairman, editorial board New Republic), Cleveland Robinson (vice president, Distributive Workers of America), Leonard Woodcock (president United Auto Workers, Jerry Wurf (president AFSME).
Elected officials who signed the cablegram included: Julian Bond, Willie Brown, Jr., John Conyers, Jr., Don Edwards, William Gluba, Edward J. Koch, Parren J. Mitchell, Henry S. Reuss, Benjamin S. Rosenthal and Louis Stokes.
South Africa benefit
On January 17 1986, a benefit concert was held at Oakland's Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, for the National Emergency Fund of the South African Council of Churches.
- Master of Ceremonies:Honorable Willie Brown
- Keynote Speaker: Bishop Desmond Tutu
- Guest Speaker: Amadou- Mahtar M'Bow Diredor General of UNESCO
Dinner Committee Members included Hon. Alan Cranston, Hon. Leo McCarthy, Hon. Barbara Boxer, Hon. Sala Burton, Hon. Ron Dellums (a DSA member), Hon. Don Edwards, Hon. Tom Lantos Hon. George Miller, Jr. Hon. Norman Mineta, Hon. Pete Stark, Hon. Willie Brown, plus Democratic Socialists of America members Julian Bond, Nancy Skinner, Harry Britt, John Henning, Adam Hochschild, Frances Moore Lappe, Stanley Sheinbaum, Communist Party USA affiliates Wilson Riles, Jr., Maudelle Shirek, Al Lannon, and Irving Sarnoff, and radical socialists Julianne Malveaux, Drummond Pike, John George, Peter Yarrow and actor/activist Sidney Poitier.
Greeting Chris Hani
Eight hundred people filled the ballroom of the Hyatt regency Embarcadero Hotel, Sunday April 28, 1991 to greet South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani. the crowd contributed more than $12,000 towards the People's Weekly World fund drive and the work of the South African Communist Party.
Hani was greeted with resolutions of support from Assembly speaker Willie Brown, San Francisco mayor Art Agnos, Oakland mayor Elihu Harris, Richmond mayor George Livingston, Berkeley mayor Loni Hancock, and Doris Ward, chair of the San Francisco board of Supervisors.
Davis, introducing Hani said he "symbolizes a courageous, unrelenting struggle for freedom".
According to Tahnee Stair of the Workers World Party, Fifteen thousand people marched through the streets of Berkeley, Calif., July 31, 1999 chanting: "Whose station? Our station!" The protesters were demonstrating in support of KPFA community radio and the locked-out workers at the station.
Buses came from many Northern California cities, bringing people to participate in the show of unity. Marchers demanded that the Pacifica Foundation, which owns KPFA, stop the drive to privatize the 50-year-old, listener-sponsored, progressive radio station.
Days before the march, Pacifica management had announced to the media that they would end the three-week worker lockout, lift an ongoing gag rule around the struggle, and turn control of programming over to the Communications Workers union. Despite this announcement, huge crowds came out to support the struggle for "free speech radio."
Although mediation was under way, Pacifica Foundation managers simply made an announcement of their terms to the media--not to the workers or community/ union steering committee. The foundation also gave no assurances about future ownership of the station.
The announcement was clearly aimed at defusing the growing mobilization for the mass march. It failed.
Since April, resistance to Pacific's policy of transforming KPFA into a National-Public-Radio-type mouthpiece for ruling-class interests has sharply increased. Listeners don't want to make the station more acceptable to major corporations--for donations--and to conservative audiences.
Popular KPFA staffers were fired. The Pacifica board insisted no one at its stations--which include WBAI in New York--report on the internal struggle.
When talk-show host Dennis Bernstein refused to accept this gag rule in early July, management hired goons from IPSA Security to drag him from the station.
News that the Pacifica board of directors was discussing selling the station was leaked to the media. A fight-back movement immediately began to grow throughout the Bay Area. It culminated in the mass march.
Rally speakers and performers included: spoken word and rap artist Michael Franti from Spearhead; the All Nations Drum; Barbara Lubin of Friends of Free Speech Radio and the Middle East Children's Alliance; Underground Railroad; Rachel Jackson of STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement); Andrea Buffa of Media Alliance; KPFA interns Akilah Monifa, Waymon, J. Imani and others; well-known Hip Hop DJ Davey D; San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean; and KPFA programmers Miguel Molina, Chuy Varela, Dennis Bernstein, Larry Bensky and Susan Stone.
Fired station manager Nicole Sawaya was greeted with a standing ovation and thunderous applause when she addressed the crowd.
Labor participation was very strong. Farm Workers Vice President Dolores Huerta and California Federation of Labor President Tom Rankin led the union presence. Leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Service Employees Local 250 hospital workers, California Nurses Association, Communication Workers Local 9415 representing KPFA workers, and both the Alameda and San Francisco Central Labor Councils expressed solidarity with the struggle to save KPFA.
Rosa Peñate and Richard Becker spoke for the International Action Center. Peñate explained that the real aim of the Pacifica board and the forces behind them is "the destruction of progressive media which can mobilize the people for action. We are not fooled and we are not going away. The International Action Center joins with the many other organizations and individuals in the Bay Area and beyond in defending KPFA."
Other speakers and co-chairs included Dorsey Nunn of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Jeff Mackler of Socialist Action, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange, CBeyond, a high school students' organization, and Vic Bedoian, executive director of KFCF radio in Fresno.
Endorsed Communist Party fund raiser
People's Weekly World Banquet 2000
Co-sponsors of the October 8 2000 Bay area People's Weekly World banquet, at His Lordships, Berkeley Marina, included San Francisco mayor Willie L. Brown, the vice mayors of Berkeley and Oakland.
- Judith Goff, Alameda County Central Labor Council
- The Northern California janitors of SEIU local 1877
- Evelina Alarcon, Cesar E. Chavez Holiday Camapign
- Clarence Thomas, East Bay ILWU
Honoring Harry Bridges
On July 30 2001, a ribbon cutting ceremony for the dedication of Harry Bridges Plaza in San Francisco. Mayor Willie Brown led the event. Joining him on the platform were Rep. Nancy Pelosi, County supervisor Adam Peskin, Port Commission vice chairman and former ILWU president Brian McWilliams and Bridges' widow Nikki Bridges Flynn.
Honoring Cesar Chavez
There was a major march through the streets of San Francisco on March 24, 2002 to mark the 75th birthday of United Farm Workers founder Cesar Chavez. Parade Grand Marshalls included two UFW founders Dolores Huerta, and Cesar's brother Richard Chavez, as well as Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
At the march rally UFW Arturo Rodriguez spoke of the continuing legacy of Chavez.
Other speakers included;
- San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi
- California Labor Federation executive secretary Art Pulaski
- California Labor Federation executive secretary/treasurer emeritus John F. Henning
- San Francisco Labor Council secretary/treasurer Walter Johnson
- San Francisco Board of Supervisors president Tom Ammiano
- Evelina Alarcon, Cesar Chavez holiday campaign leader and Communist Party USA member
- Willie Brown Chapter Eight— Forest Knolls
- [The Stanford Daily, Volume 160, Issue 64, 25 January 1972]
- [The Stanford Daily, Volume 160, Issue 38, 17 November 1971]
- Democratic Left, Sep. 1975, page 2
- EBONY & IVORY invite you to attend a dinner benefit for theNational Emergency Fund of the South African Council of Churches
- [ The Stanford Daily, Volume 193, Issue 47, 27 April 1988]
- Peoples weekly World, May 4, 1991, page 2
- Workers World, 15,000 defend peoples' radio at KPFA By Tahnee Stair Berkeley, Calif.
- Peoples Weekly World, September 11, 1999
- PWW September 23, 2000, page 2
- PWWW, August 4, 2001, page 6
- PWW Thousands march to commemorate Chavez, March 30, 2002