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On this date in 1907, Augustus Hawkins, a Black politician was born.
Augustus Freeman “Gus” Hawkins was born in Shreveport, LA. When he was 11, his family moved to California. His pharmacist father was from England and had been on several African Expeditions.
Hawkins attended high school in Los Angeles and received his undergraduate degree from UCLA in 1931. He began a 28-year career as a member of the California Assembly in 1935, where he introduced a fair housing act, a fair employment practices act, low-cost housing, disability insurance legislation, and workmen’s compensation provisions for domestic workers.
Hawkins’ election to Congress in 1962 made him the first Black representative from any western state. He sat on the Committee on Education and Labor and continued to sponsor legislation designed to create jobs and ensure civil rights. One of his most notable accomplishments in his early congressional career was authoring legislation that included Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
He was perhaps best known for authoring the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978, also known as the Humphrey-Hawkins Act. Gus Hawkins also succeeded in restoring an honorable discharge for the 167 Black 25th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army after being falsely accused of public disturbance in Brownsville, TX, in 1906. Augustus Hawkins died on November 10, 2007, in Maryland.
Reference: Black Americans In Congress 1870-1989.
Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese
U.S. Government Printing Office
Raymond W. Smock, historian and director 1990