Willie Brown was speaker of the California State Assembly from 1980 to 1995 and the mayor of San Francisco from 1994 to 2004. Born in 1934 in Mineola, Texas, Brown moved to San Francisco at the start of his college years in 1951. He graduated from San Francisco State University in 1955 with a degree in political science, and he earned his law degree from UC Hastings School of Law in 1958. Preceding his election to the California State Assembly in 1964, he practiced law in San Francisco. During his time in the assembly, he chaired the Ways and Means Committee from 1969 to 1974 and served as assembly speaker for nearly fifteen years. During that time, he also managed Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign in 1988. In 1994, Brown became the 41st mayor of San Francisco. In this interview, which was conducted prior to his election as mayor, Brown discusses his Texas upbringing; his university years and early political activities as a Democrat in San Francisco; the legislative issues and politics of 1965 to 1992; his leadership concerns as assembly speaker, including government organization, revenue and taxation, and African American equity; and his work with political leaders of the time, including Phillip Burton, Jesse Unruh, Robert Moretti, and Edmund G. Brown, Jr. This interview is the first of two interviews with Brown, the second titled “Willie Brown: Mayor of San Francisco, 1994–2004,” which was conducted in 2015. In addition, this interview includes supplementary material on Brown, including speech transcripts, as well as twenty-five phonotapes, which contain interviews with Brown and other prominent figures of the time.




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