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The Honorable Willie L. Brown

Political leader The Honorable Willie L. Brown, Jr. was born on March 20, 1934 in Mineola, Texas to Minnie Collins Boyd and Willie Lewis Brown, Sr. He graduated from Mineola Colored High School in 1951. In 1955, he received his B.A. degree in political science from San Francisco State University, followed by a J.D. degree in 1958 from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Brown operated his own general law practice in San Francisco. In 1960, he led a sit-in to protest housing discrimination; and in 1964 he defended political activist Mario Savio, who was arrested for civil disobedience. Brown was elected to the California State Assembly in 1964 on his second run, and he would remain there to represent San Francisco until 1995. In 1969, he was made the Democratic Whip; and in 1980, he was elected Speaker of the Assembly. He also spoke at the 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami, Florida. After Californians passed a 1990 ballot initiative instituting term limits for state elected officials, Brown was “termed out” of office in 1995. That year, he ran for the office of Mayor of San Francisco and easily defeated incumbent Frank Jordan. He served as mayor from 1996 until 2004, overseeing several development projects and mediating two public transit worker strikes.

After retiring from public office in 2004, Brown continued to dedicate his time to community service. In 2008, he established the Willie L. Brown, Jr. Institute on Politics and Public Service, a nonpartisan non-profit organization at San Francisco State University dedicated to training future municipal administrators. Brown has Honorary Doctorate of Law degrees from seventeen institutions, including San Francisco State University, Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio; as well as a Doctorate of Science degree from the California College of Podiatric Medicine. He was a Fellow of Crown College at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 2006, Brown co-hosted a morning radio show with comedian Will Durst, and in 2008 he published his autobiography, Basic Brown: My Life and Our Times.

In 1958, Brown married Blanche Vitero, with whom he has three children: Susan, Robin, and Michael. He also has four grandchildren and a daughter, Sydney Brown, by Carolyn Carpeneti. Brown and Vitero separated in 1976 but remain married.

Willie L. Brown was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 14, 2015.

Accession Number

A2015.008

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/14/2015 |and| 12/19/2015

Last Name

Brown

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

L.

Schools

MacFarland High School

San Francisco State University

University of California, Hastings College of the Law

First Name

Willie

Birth City, State, Country

Mineola

HM ID

BRO62

State

Texas

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

3/20/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Country

United States

Short Description

Mayor and state assemblyman The Honorable Willie L. Brown (1934 - ) represented San Francisco in the California State Assembly from 1964 to 1995 and served as Mayor of San Francisco from 1996 to 2004.

Employment

California State Assembly

City and County of San Francisco

Willie Brown, Jr. Institute on Politics and Public Service

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Willie L. Brown's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown describes his parents' family backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about his relationship with his mother, Minnie Collins Boyd

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown describes his respect for his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown describes his relationship with his father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about his experiences at Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown describes his move to San Francisco, California

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about joining Jones Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco, California

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown remembers Fillmore Street in San Francisco, California

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown describes his early work experiences in San Francisco, California

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown recalls attending San Francisco State College in San Francisco, California

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown recalls appointing Hamilton Boswell as chaplain of the California State Assembly

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about the history of black political activities in San Francisco, California

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown reflects upon his support from black churches

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown recalls enrolling at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about his early political activities

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about the beginning of his law career

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown remembers becoming a criminal defense lawyer

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about Phillip Burton's political career, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about Phillip Burton's political career, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown recalls his first successful campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown describes his early experiences as a member of the California State Assembly

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about the 1972 Democratic National Convention

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown remembers the growth in black leadership in the Democratic Party during the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown describes his unsuccessful run for Speaker of the California State Assembly

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown describes how he became speaker of the California State Assembly in 1981

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown describes the position of Speaker of the California State Assembly

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown describes his approach to the California State Assembly speakership

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about his contributions as Speaker of the California State Assembly

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown reflects upon the importance of fairness in politics

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown recalls the campaign to unseat him by introducing term limits

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about gaining President Ronald Wilson Reagan's support to oppose term limits

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown recalls the introduction of term limits in the California State Assembly

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about the Gang of Five

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about the events leading to his election as Speaker of the California State Assembly

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown remembers his involvement in the mayoralty of George Moscone

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown recalls his reluctance to run for mayor of San Francisco, California

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks his campaign for mayor of San Francisco, California

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown remembers journalist Herb Caen

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown recalls transitioning to the role of mayor, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown recalls transitioning to the role of mayor, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about his role in initiating AIDS research

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown recalls his frustrations as mayor of San Francisco, California

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about renaming a street in honor of Carlton Benjamin Goodlett

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown reflects upon the impact of his mayoralty for people of color

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about his contributions to cultural institutions in San Francisco, California

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown describes his family

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown describes how a portion of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was named in his honor

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about his fashion interests

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about the institute and fellowship programs he has sponsored

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - The Honorable Willie L. Brown reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$2

DATape

2$5

DAStory

8$3

DATitle
The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about his early political activities
The Honorable Willie L. Brown talks about his contributions as Speaker of the California State Assembly
Transcript
I had been heavily in politics at San Francisco State [San Francisco State College; San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California], both fraternal politics, NAACP politics, and regular politics as a student. We elected the first black president who was Bert Phillips, and then we elected the second one, LeVell Holmes, a kid from Richmond [California]. We really were like activists like you would not believe. We were also activists on the outside of, of the school or, and so politics was just flowing through my blood veins. I ended up graduating from Hastings [University of California, Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, California] as the president of the class and still in the capacity of the world of politics, still very much a part of the Burton world by then, it had really expanded, and the NAACP's [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] world, and really expanded. We had come to become real activists in every way because by then, then the incident involving Rosa Parks had occurred, and activations throughout the country. The Martin King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] world was beginning to evidence itself in the late '50s [1950s] and people running for public office had begun to talk about the right to vote and things of that nature, and so it was just all totally and completely natural. It was a way in which to advertise as a lawyer, 'cause in those days you didn't have the privilege that you do now of literally advertising. That was considered a violation of the canon of ethics. Same time period, going--I met George Moscone. We were classmates at Hastings and so suddenly my world had become expanded in San Francisco [California] through my Italian buddy who was a nephew of the people who ran the garbage companies in San Francisco, the scavenger countries--companies in San Francisco. So suddenly, I'm, my world is just expanding by light years and politics was kind of the center piece of that world, and as young lawyers, both George Moscone and Willie Brown [HistoryMaker Willie L. Brown], both availed themselves of the opportunity, first to run for the county committee in 1960 and then George ran for the state legislature [California State Legislature] and I ran for the state legislature two years later. Didn't win. I ran four years later and I did win. At all times always keeping our relationship with our operations at SF State because after all that was home base for us. That was a foundation, that's where many of our friends still were, that's where many of the people we recruited to be a part of the operation really were, and, simultaneously, we had graduated to interact with more than just the Young Democrats, we had begun to talk to labor. We had begun to talk to the International Longshoremen and Warehouses Union [sic. International Longshore and Warehouse Union] because one of the things that we did is in 1952, long before any of us fully understood, independent Progressive Party ran the candidate for office--prison, named Vin Hallinan [Vincent Hallinan], and we were part of that effort and we got accused of being communist and all the other things, and then the McCarthy [Joseph McCarthy] hearings, and--it was just natural by the time I got my law license, opened my office to practice. Francois [Terry Francois] and Goodlett [sic. Carlton Benjamin Goodlett] and all of that crowd, Joe Williams [Joseph B. Williams], and all that crowd kept us really focused on changing the world through organizing and through the political process and through the racial activities, period. And it was just a wonderful time period for any young cat to be around doing the things that they were doing. You had black organizations at every level. You had black medical organizations. You had black lawyer organizations, the Charles Houstons [Charles Hamilton Houston]. It was incredible to have all those things and you were a part of all those things and there was a incredible black social movement. There was virtually no integration in, in, in terms of social integration. There was work integration, there was political integration, but in terms of social world, it was still as it had been in Dallas [Texas], as it still, as it had been in Mineola [Texas] and, and it was just a wonderful time to be so exposed and the definitions, people didn't even question whether or not you were black enough if you were any form of a leader because you didn't have a choice. Everybody expected you to do it on behalf of black people.$It was a good run. But you became speaker largely some people think because of Republicans, that, that you rounded up people that no one could understand why they were supporting you.$$(Laughter) I must tell you that, and when it was clear that I was going for the membership of the house [California State Assembly], the Republicans who had observed when serving on committees with me, how truly fair I could be, got a chance to, in fact, vote for somebody they thought would really treat this speakership as an instrument for all the membership and as an instrument of government for the State of California, and that what's they saw in me because they clearly did not see any ambition to be anything other than the speaker. I was not interested in [U.S.] Congress, I was not interested in the U.S. Senate, I was not interested in any statewide office. It was clear that I would be the speaker and all of my conduct, by the way, was geared to representing the house rather than representing me and enhancing my own image. It was always the house from the time when I literally recognized that people would be criticized for using what was then a telephone system that had numbers and had records. I made, I made it so that all of the telephones were in my name so you couldn't ever say which member did or did not. I extracted the opportunity out of the membership to do things like provide them with healthcare bill or healthcare coverage. I provided them with death benefits. All these things they never had before I provide, I created a travel service within the context of the legislature [California State Legislature], we put in a travel office and so they no longer had to use their campaign accounts in order to do the traveling they needed to do back and forth between their districts. I set it up so that each member had a direct budget equal to every other member, enhanced based on leadership status, chairmanships and things of that nature, but I really did put it together and I ran it as if it was a nation unto itself for the benefit of the members. And believe me that was not prospectively lost on the Republicans. And so when it came time to decide would they support one or another of the respective candidates of speaker, they chose Willie Brown [HistoryMaker Willie L. Brown], 'cause they also had the prospect for the first time of having Republican chairpersons in a caucus, in a concept where it wasn't from caucus, but it was from the house, and they loved that completely. And so when the vote was cast, of the number of Republicans who were there, I got them all but four. So I got twenty-eight Republicans and other Democrats who were there, I got about half of the Democrats, but I got twenty-eight out of thirty-two Republicans, and I got twenty-three Democrats, and I won the speakership with a greater number than anyone else had won a contest for speaker before and since. The history of California, that was the only time there was a real recorded contest, and without all of the hype of mutual respect and what have you. It was a real contest. We won it and we won it with Republicans doing twenty-eight and Democrats doing twenty-three, and then the distribution of chairmanships, there were over twenty chairmanships, (unclear) Republicans ended up with five, we ended up with the concept of if there was a chair Democrat, there was a vice chair Republican. If there was a chair Republican, there was a vice chair Democrat. We ended up with proportionate representation, whatever percentage of your political party was a percentage of the membership of the house and every member, as I said, had an equal budget. We also set it up so that there could be no exploitation of the budgetary process involving the house membership; and the members just loved it, loved it beyond belief.

The Honorable Ray Miller

Retired State Senator Ray Miller was born in Hampton, Virginia on April 6, 1949. Miller graduated from East High School in Columbus, Ohio. He then attended Ohio State University and graduated with his B.S. degree in political science and his M.A. degree in public administration in 1971 and 1973, respectively. Miller was hired as the vice president for Columbus State Community College from 1975 to 1978. In 1976, he was appointed assistant director of legislation for the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees union (AFSCME)/Ohio Council 8. Miller then worked as a deputy special assistant to President Jimmy Carter from 1979 to 1980. After working for the White House, he returned to his vice president post at Columbus State Community College from 1975 to 1978. Miller returned to the post again from 1981 to 1986 and finally from 1987 to 1993. He was elected to the Ohio State House of Representatives in 1981 and again in 1998. In all, Miller served sixteen years in the Ohio House of Representatives, becoming dean of the state legislative body during his tenure. Miller was also appointed president of the National Urban Policy Institute in 1997 and president/CEO of the Professional Employment Services of America, a year later.

In 2003, he was elected to the Ohio State Senate, becoming the fourteenth African American elected to the Ohio Senate in the state's 205-year history. Miller also served as the minority whip of the Senate before his retirement in 2010. During his tenure as state senator, Miller was chief sponsor for legislation that helped to create the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services, the Community Mental Health Act of 1988 and the Ohio Commission on Minority Health, where he served as founder and chairman. Additionally, Miller is regarded as the "Father of Head Start Funding" in Ohio because of his sponsorship of legislation that established the nation's first state-level funding for the Head Start Program.

Miller also authored legislation which established the Institute for Urban Education at Central State University. He also established a 25% set aside for minority health programs from Ohio's $10 billion Tobacco Settlement Agreement. Miller is also the chief sponsor of legislation that led to the creation of the Ohio African-American Hall of Fame.

He has garnered numerous awards for his service, including Trailblazer Award from the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus; International Pathfinder Award from the World Congress on the Family; a Distinguished Legislator of the Year Award from the American Public Health Association and the President’s Award from the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Miller is the president of The Center for Urban Progress in Columbus, Ohio. He and his wife, Marty, have one son, Ray III.

Raymond Miller was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 2, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.095

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/2/2012

Last Name

Miller

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

The Ohio State University

East High School

Washington-Jackson Elem Magnet

Fair Elementary School

Franklin Junior High School

Champion Avenue School

First Name

Ray

Birth City, State, Country

Hampton

HM ID

MIL08

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

Never Allow Your Greatest Accomplishment Become Your Highest Achievement in Life.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

4/6/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Columbus

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cake (Pineapple Upside Down)

Short Description

State senator and state assemblyman The Honorable Ray Miller (1949 - ) was regarded as the "Father of Head Start Funding" in Ohio because of his sponsorship of legislation that established the nation's first state-level funding for the Head Start Program.

Employment

Ohio State Senate

National Urban Policy Institute

Columbus State Community College

Ohio State House of Representatives

U.S. Office of Federal Contract Compliance

White House

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ray Miller's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ray Miller lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ray Miller describes Hampton, Virginia as his mother's birth place

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ray Miller describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ray Miller talks about his mother's extended family in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ray Miller describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ray Miller talks about his father, Inus Ray Miller, Sr.

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ray Miller talks about how his father may not have been his father and moving frequently as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ray Miller describes his relationship with his father after his parents' divorce

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ray Miller recounts how his parents may have met, and his relationships with them

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ray Miller recalls his mother, Inez Smith Miller's second marriage to George Emerson

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ray Miller recalls his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ray Miller describes growing up on a U.S. Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ray Miller recalls the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ray Miller lists the schools he attended in Hampton, Virginia; Wichita Falls, Texas; and Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ray Miller describes being an introverted child

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ray Miller describes the musical talent in his family

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ray Miller talks about Columbus, Ohio's jazz scene

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ray Miller recalls his years at Fair Avenue Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio, and attending the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ray Miller remembers President John F. Kennedy and his 1963 assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ray Miller recalls the 1963 March on Washington, and his mother's preoccupations with attending church and playing the lottery

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ray Miller recounts how he became involved in the Federal Model Cities Program's Model Neighborhood Assembly in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ray Miller describes working with the Columbus Metropolitan Area Community Action Agency

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ray Miller remembers his involvement with the Columbus Metropolitan Area Community Action Agency, and his boxing coach's mentorship

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ray Miller describes his interests in middle and high school, and losing his brother to leukemia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ray Miller talks about deciding to attend Kent State University in Kent, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ray Miller recalls classism at East High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ray Miller recounts his suspension from Columbus, Ohio's East High School, and the intervention of his band teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ray Miller lists some of the musicians and groups he knew while playing with the Four Mints band in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ray Miller talks about the basketball team at East High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ray Miller recalls enrolling in Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and pledging Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ray Miller describes the African American student community at Ohio State University in Columbus

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ray Miller recalls helpful advisors he had at Ohio State University in Columbus

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ray Miller recounts confronting National Guardsmen at Ohio State University in Columbus, at the time of the Kent State University shooting

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ray Miller remembers John Evans and other African American leaders at Ohio State University during the late 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ray Miller recounts a student strike at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ray Miller recounts his decision to attend graduate school for public administration at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ray Miller recalls his Ohio state legislative fellowship in 1971 with Majority Leader Rep. William Mallory and Majority Whip Rep. Richard F. Celeste

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ray Miller recounts being snubbed by the Black Elected Democrats of Ohio

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ray Miller describes the mentorship of Ohio State Representative C.J. McLin

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ray Miller describes working for AFSCME, a government employees' union, and at Columbus State Community College

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ray Miller recalls the 1979 Columbus Board of Education v. Penick court decision on school desegregation

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ray Miller reflects upon the positive and negative effects of school desegregation in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Ray Miller describes working for AFSCME, a government employees' union

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Ray Miller recounts accepting the position as Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Ray Miller recalls working with President Jimmy Carter and the Congressional Black Caucus, including HistoryMakers U.S. Congressmen Charles Rangel and Louis Stokes

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Ray Miller talks about representing President Jimmy Carter and making deals with members of the U.S. Congress

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Ray Miller recalls his dealings with Ron Brown, who represented Senator Edward Kennedy

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Ray Miller recalls bringing HistoryMaker Dick Gregory to the White House to talk about the Iranian Hostage Crisis, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Ray Miller recalls bringing HistoryMaker Dick Gregory to the White House to talk about the Iranian Hostage Crisis, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Ray Miller reflects upon Jimmy Carter administration's relationship with the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Ray Miller compares HistoryMaker Andrew Young and Jimmy Carter

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Ray Miller recalls preparing to leave the White House after Jimmy Carter's 1980 electoral defeat

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Ray Miller talks about what the presidential administration of HistoryMaker Barack Obama has done for African Americans in politics, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Ray Miller talks about what the presidential administration of HistoryMaker Barack Obama has done for African Americans in politics, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

7$8

DAStory

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DATitle
Ray Miller recalls working with President Jimmy Carter and the Congressional Black Caucus, including HistoryMakers U.S. Congressmen Charles Rangel and Louis Stokes
Ray Miller recalls bringing HistoryMaker Dick Gregory to the White House to talk about the Iranian Hostage Crisis, pt. 2
Transcript
So I went and did that [directed Office of Federal Contract Compliance, Washington, D.C.] and--great experience, great experience. And that's when I really found out how powerful [Ohio state rep.] C. J. [McLin] was because people, in that building, people visiting from other states would say, "Good Lord"--my boss, who was Louie Martin, and legendary Louie Martin.$$Oh, yes, Louis [E.] Martin.$$Yeah, that's who I worked with directly. So I came in as a chief of staff. Louie needed somebody--he needed a man, number one, he had all women, Karen Zanica [ph.], Julia Dobbs, very bright women, University of Chicago [Chicago, Illinois], Harvard [University, Cambridge, Massachusetts], you know who ends up in the White House, a bunch of Ivy Leaguers. But he needed somebody practically who knew politics and a man. So I come in and met with a little resistance, but then you prove yourself. So I showed that I knew how to work the [Capitol] Hill even though that wasn't my job. They had congressional leads on staff. I still wanted to go up and do it because they couldn't get anything done. And [President Jimmy] Carter was fish out of water. In terms of really knowing how to work Washington and the [U.S.] Congress, he was pretty much disastrous almost. That was--you know when you're in a situation and you're afraid and you're not comfortable. Well he surrounded himself with all the Georgia guys, Hamilton Jordan, and Jody Powell, and Rick Hutchinson, so the small circle, talented guys--you know Hamilton had better instincts politically and so did Jody than Carter. Carter didn't have political instincts. He's an engineer. So he would literally come to the meetings--because I was a deputy, I was second level guy, so I'm in all the meetings, so he would literally come into the meetings with gridded, the engineer's paper, gridded paper, you know what I mean, and a portfolio. He's a naval guy. He's on time and I'd set up meetings with the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and you know how that goes, all the brothers from the Congressional Black Caucus get together and they're talking stuff and they show up late, some, maybe six of them would show up on time, and maybe three of them are coming from some other committee but they're going to get there and they may get there ten, fifteen minutes late, and Carter, being the engineer and the naval guy, man, he was intractable. So, you know how politics go. The first is a lot co-bits and these are people that you don't get a chance to see all day every day, so [HM] Charlie Rangel is asking Lou Stokes [HM Louis Stokes] about something, and Bill Clay about. So these guys are like talking and catching up. And Carter is just sitting there getting hot, and then Charlie Rangel stands up and he does the New York, "The problem, mister president, is that we're like two ships passing in the night, and if you understood what we're trying to do." So he's doing the Charlie Rangel and Carter is sitting there because he could get tight, really tight. He had that big old toothy grin, but he would be really tight inside. And I'm watching him--I got pictures--I could show you some pictures if I could pull them of me standing in the background of meetings that I've convened. And I've been raised in politics, so I have a real appreciation for it. I really enjoy it. I like the give and take of it all. And he didn't. For him, we are here to talk about this and--I remember in one of these meetings, he said--closed his portfolio, he said, "I was here on time." Who cares? "I was here on time and you weren't. I think we have exhausted this conversation. The meeting is over." I was like, "No, you didn't, not with members of the Congress, right?" So I then had to go and repair that.$I bring him in--after several attempts, I tell the Secret Service I want to bring [HM] Dick Gregory in and they said, "Well, Mr. Miller, have you looked at his record?" I said, "No." They said, "Do you know how many times he has been arrested? I said, "No, I don't know how many times he's been arrested." They said, "Like fifty-two times or something like that." I said, "This is Dick Gregory. This is like prot--Yeah, he would have been arrested but for social protests, you know that kind of thing, not as a criminal." They said, "Okay, we'll let him in but only into your office." So my office--we had a beautiful suite right on the east wing, right on 15th [Street] and Pennsylvania [Avenue] there. So right inside the door, our office looked into the Jacqueline Onassis Gardens--so I say this to Dick, "I'm going to set up a meeting for you to meet with the president [Jimmy Carter]." He said, "Oh no, brother, I'm not meeting with the president." I said, "Why," and he said, "I know what happens to black folks when they meet with the president." He said, "A little cavity opens up on the top of your head and your Uncle Tom jumps out," and he said, "Whatever the president says, you say, 'Oh, yes, sir, Mr. President, I agree with you." He said, "I'm not meeting the president." He had me dying laughing. I said, "No, man, you got all this information." He said, "No, I'm not doing it." He said, "You meet with me tomorrow morning at the Hay-Adams Hotel and bring your tape." He said, "You gotta a tape recorder?" I said, "Yep." He said, "You bring your tape recorder," so we meet like 7:30 in the morning. He's doing this Bahamian diet. He's got all these pills and tea. No food. And then he starts telling me all this experimental stuff about your strength that comes from it. Then we get down to the interview, and we sat for about three or four hours, right? I'm popping tapes, man, one after the other. And he was right. I mean the bottom line we had their assets frozen when it was all said and done. It was a sizable amount of money. I can't remember how many millions or billions of dollars it was. But if you recall when [Ronald] Reagan won, it was no time before the hostages were released. We had the failed attempt where they went in and they said that sand got up into the engine of the helicopters and the helicopters crashed into the compound and those guys lost their lives.$$Yeah, they called it the "October Surprise,"--(simultaneous)--$$--Yeah.--(simultaneous)--$$--now, or the plotting around that being that-- I know a lot of people--I guess some conspiracy theorists and (unclear) people think it was a sabotage.$$Absolutely, absolutely and I'd be one of those. I'd definitely think it was sabotaged. But I think it goes back--I don't know if I've heard anybody say this, but when the President Carter came in, he did a very foolish thing, in my opinion, he terminated something in the neighborhood of two hundred CIA agents and when you go back and take a look at that--at the very beginning of his administration--and that's the last thing you want to do to have the cloak and dagger guys, you know, on the opposite of what you want to do. There was never much conversation around that, but when I saw that, I was like, "Oh, my goodness!" It would be ten times worse than a governor coming and firing 250 highway patrolmen. They have too much information. It would be that kind of analogy but only a hundred times worse because some of these guys are trained to sabotage, trained to disrupt, and worse. Yeah, that's what he did. So, in any event, Gregory had all kind of proposals about a big prayer vigil on the South Lawn and all those kind of things that he thought we could add in. I'm like, "Okay, I don't think we need to do all that." But because of that, then I was in all the negotiations, all the senior meetings, around the Iranian hostage crisis and I was there when the helicopters went down and I saw Jimmy Carter break down and cry in the Oval office. We were at the Oval Office together when the attempt went off, and Dick Gregory put me there whether he knew that or not because I had all that information--I had all those tapes that I shared with the foreign policy staff.

The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally

California State Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally was born in Cedros, Trinidad on May 12, 1926 to a mother and father from Trinidad and India, respectively. While in Trinidad, Dymally was a staff reporter for The Vanguard, a newspaper published by the Oil Workers Trade Union. In 1946, he traveled to the United States and attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri to study journalism.

After leaving Lincoln University, Dymally traveled to California, where he resumed his education by earning a B.A. degree in education in 1954 from Los Angeles State College. After teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District for a number of years, Dymally became a field coordinator in 1960 for John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. Two years later, he was elected to the California General Assembly, and in 1966, he became the first African American to serve in the California State Senate. As a State Senator, Dymally chaired a number of committees, including social welfare and veterans affairs committees. He also earned a master’s degree in government from California State University in 1969. In 1974, he again made history, when he was elected the first black lieutenant governor in California history. Though he failed to be reelected in 1978, Dymally went on to earn a Ph.D. from the United States International University in San Diego, and in 1980, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, becoming the first foreign-born African American to serve in the U.S. Congress.

As a Congressman, Dymally served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he was the chair of the Subcommittee on International Operations. He also served on the Post Office and Civil Service Committee, as well as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus from 1986 to 1987. In 1991, Dymally was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as a representative to the United Nations, and he retired from Congress in 1992.

Since then, Dymally has remained active, having been named honorary consul to the Republic of Benin in 1993, as well as serving as a distinguished professor at Central State University in Ohio and as a member of the faculty at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles. In 2003, Dymally was reelected to the California State Assembly, and in 2004, he became the chief assembly protocol officer.

Dymally was vice-president of the Pacific Century Institute, a non-profit organization that fosters education and policy dialogue for nations of the Pacific Rim. He and his wife, Alice, have two children and three grandchildren.

Mervyn Dymally passed away on October 7, 2012.

Accession Number

A2004.233

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/15/2004

Last Name

Dymally

Maker Category
Middle Name

M.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Lincoln University

Reaver School of Chiropractic

Chapman University

Los Angeles City College

Cedros Government Primary School

First Name

Mervyn

Birth City, State, Country

Bonasse

HM ID

DYM01

Favorite Season

Holiday Season

Favorite Vacation Destination

Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago

Favorite Quote

To Thine Own Self Be True, And It Must Follow, The Night, The Day, Thou Canst Not Be False To Any Man.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

5/12/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

Trinidad & Tobago

Favorite Food

Fish

Death Date

10/7/2012

Short Description

State assemblyman The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally (1926 - 2012 ) has served as a state senator for Cailfornia, lieutenant governor of California and as a member of the U.S. Congress, where he chaired the Congressional Black Caucus.

Employment

California State Assembly

U.S. House of Representative

California Lieutenant Governor

Favorite Color

Navy Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes growing up in Bonasse, British West Indies

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes religion in Trinidad

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes fishing in Cedros, British West Indies

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes the educational system in the British West Indies

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally remembers the music of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally recalls his family's expectations while growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally recalls his educational experience in Trinidad

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally recalls his early interest in journalism

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally remembers his arrival in the United States

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally remembers attending Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes the colleges he attended in California

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally recalls his jobs as a college student

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally remembers joining the Young Democrats

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes working for the Democratic Party

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally recalls running for the California State Assembly

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally remembers his election to the California State Assembly

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally remembers campaigning against police brutality in California

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes legislation he worked on in the California State Assembly

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes his work in the California State Senate

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes reforming the California State Senate

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes running for lieutenant governor of California

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes his 1980 U.S. Congressional race

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally remembers advocating for the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally remembers advocating for the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally recalls chairing the Congressional Black Caucus in 1986 and 1987

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes his work as chairman of the African Subcommittee in the U.S. Congress

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes the campaign to save the Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally recalls meeting Muammar Gaddafi and Yasser Arafat

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally remembers meeting world leaders

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes the founding of the Joint Center for Political Studies in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes returning to Trinidad in 1992

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes working with the United National Congress in Trinidad

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes his position as honorary consul for Benin

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes race and partisanship in the United States

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally reflects upon his political career

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes his work in the California State Senate
The Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally describes his work as chairman of the African Subcommittee in the U.S. Congress
Transcript
You're in a [California] State Assembly and (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) In the assembly. The assembly, Jess Unruh [Jesse M. Unruh] was the leader and I spent two terms there, four years, and then there was a one man, you know, say one person, one vote, one of the famous decisions of the Warren Court. And California had forty senators with only one in Los Angeles County, because senators were given districts by counties, so Los Angeles [California] just had one. In the smaller counties, they would be called the cow counties, some of them were so small that some of them had two or three. And after the one man, one vote, then Los Angeles rose from one to thirteen and a half, and so a district was drawn. And so, a district was drawn.$$That's a real big jump, so a lot of people were really unrepresented.$$Yes, yes. And so I became the first black senator in California.$$So that's 1966, right?$$Yes, um-hm.$$Okay, all right. What's your legacy there in the California State Senate?$$Well, when I got in the Assembly, there was a fellowship program [California State Assembly Fellowship Program; Jesse Marvin Unruh Assembly Fellowship Program] conducted by UC Berkeley [University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California] and funded by the Ford Foundation and run by the Assembly, and there was only one black in the program over time, and I went to Jess Unruh, complaining. So he assigned a staff member to me to develop a proposal, now, I mean to the Senate, and we took it to the Ford Foundation. The program vice-president was Mike Sveridorf [ph.], who was a former United Auto Workers, and I told you I came from United Auto Workers, so that was helpful. They assigned Chris Edley [Christopher Edley, Sr.], no--I'm sorry--Chris Edley comes later on. We'll talk about that. Remind me, if I forget, to talk about Chris and the Joint Center for Political Studies [Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Washington, D.C.]. And so, they funded us to train Negro youth in public affairs. And, Bill Greene, who now is in the Assembly, Teresa Hughes was running, going to run the program, the high school section of the program from Puerto Rican Harlem [New York, New York], bilingual, working on a Ph.D. at Claremont [Graduate School; Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California]. The three of us came to the realization that California is not a black state. It is becoming Latino. We need to expand this program. So, we broke away from the mandate and we brought Latinos into the program, and out of that program there was Assemblyman Gwen Moore, Assemblywoman Teresa Hughes, Assemblyman Bill Greene, Councilman Richard Alatorre, and Art Torres [Arthur Torres] was not part of the program, but he worked for me around that period. He is now chairman of the Democratic Party, and Joe Serna [Jr.], first Latino mayor of Sacramento [California], now deceased, so we integrated the whole program, and that's what I want to do again, but in the Senate, I had the Dymally adoption bill, in which the state gave a subsidy to adopt hard-to-place children. I was someplace recently and a woman said, "Mr. Dymally [HistoryMaker Mervyn M. Dymally], I used to run the Dymally adoption bill while I was with the county." So what the state did, you adopt a child and they give you the same subsidy that they would have given the foster care, except now they have a parent, yeah. So, that was important. Child abuse prevention, early childhood education, child growth and development, the eighteen-year-olds, equal rights for women. I became chairman of the Democratic Caucus, created the first Latino center district in California.$Tell us about this, though, before we leave [U.S.] Congress. You were chairman of the African Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee?$$Yeah, I visited forty-two African countries, you know, honored by about six. I tried to develop relationships, some of it which was misunderstood; for instance, the state department [U.S. Department of State] heard that I knew Mobutu [Sese Seko] and tried to get in to sponsor one of these Franco Democratic conferences that were sweeping Franco Africa, and I did get in to put the conference together, but there was a lobbying group the rainbow lobbyists that went after me with a hatchet (laughter). They took me to court and the whole thing, but my position was I did not obviously support Mobuto. I wanted to know what were we doing there? What was he doing? There was rumor with some credibility that Savimbi was permitted to use a base in Zaire to go on to Angola, so--$$It's Jonas Savimbi, yeah, who actually--$$I wanted to kind of find out what the heck was going on, but you know, I also had a meeting with Ms. [Prime Minister] Indira Gandhi, got to know [Prime Minister] Rajiv Ghandi on a personal basis, spent twenty-five and a half hours with [Prime Minister] Fidel Castro, all of which came to Q and A books, got a child released from Cuba to her parents here in Los Angeles [California], got a prisoner released by the Iranian opposition back into the district, Bellflower [California], you know, and got the [U.S.] Supreme Court justice released from jail by [Samuel] Doe, you know, so that's the sort of thing I did, but I did not seek publicity for these things, you know. I just did it, I accepted the peace award in Brazil for [Nelson] Mandela, flew to Soweto [Johannesburg, South Africa], gave it to his wife [Winnie Mandela] while he was in--tried to go see him, but the African government wouldn't permit me to go see him in prison.$$Okay, so you followed him and tried to complete some of the work of Congressman [Charles] Diggs.$$Yes, yes. In fact, he and I had a little friendly rivalry. I said, "Look, Charlie, I'm gonna beat you. You visited fifty-one of the fifty-two countries. I'm gonna do all fifty-two" (laughter). I made forty-two. I still want to--my ambition, if you ask me what's my future ambition, it's to make those other ten.$$Okay. So, you didn't run for Congress again. You just didn't run again or (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) In '92 [1992] yeah.$$In '92 [1992].