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Tue, 03.20.1934

Willie Brown Jr., Lawyer, and Politician born

Willie Brown Jr.

*Willie Brown was born on this date in 1934. He is a Black lawyer, politician and businessman.

From Mineola, TX. Willie Lewis Brown, Jr. attended segregated schools. He moved to San Francisco in 1951 to stay with his uncle. He graduated from San Francisco State University and from the Hastings College of the Law. In September 1958, Brown married Blanche Vitero, with whom he had three children, Susan, Robin, and Michael. He has four grandchildren, Besia, Matea, Mateo, and Lordes, and a step-granddaughter, Tyler. The couple separated in approximately 1976 but remain married. He has a daughter, Sydney Brown, by political fundraiser Carolyn Carpeneti. He is a member of the Democratic Party.

He served as mayor from January 8, 1996, after defeating incumbent Frank Jordan, until January 8, 2004, when Gavin Newsom succeeded him. He was previously a member of the California State Assembly from 1964-95, and was Speaker of the Assembly from 1981-95. Brown's long service in the Assembly, coupled with that body's tenure system for leadership appointments, gave Brown almost complete control over the California Legislature as the Assembly Speaker. Brown was extremely popular San Francisco, though unpopular in the rest of the state, and he wielded great control over legislative affairs and political appointments, making his removal from his position as Speaker politically difficult.

Partially to remove Brown from his leadership position, Californians passed a constitutional amendment imposing term limits on members of the State Legislature. After Brown left office due to the term limits, the Assembly restructured their rules, giving most of the powers formerly held by the Speaker to a leadership committee made up of senior members of both parties. Willie Brown began his term as one of the most popular mayors in the city's history, and was easily re-elected to a second term. Although an economic downturn strained the city's finances in his second term, when he left office in 2003, Mayor Brown was able to see his chosen successor elected in his place.

From 2006 through 2006, Brown co-hosted a morning radio show with comedian Will Durst on a local San Francisco Air America Radio affiliate. He also makes a weekly podcast. Brown also established The Willie L. Brown, Jr. Institute on Politics & Public Service, an unaffiliated nonprofit organization at San Francisco State University. The center trains students for careers in municipal, county and regional governments. The center will be one of the first to focus on local government in the country.

Brown gave the center's library a collection of his artifacts, videotapes and legislative papers from his forty years in public office. He also mentors students by teaching a course on leadership, and recruit guest speakers. In 2008, Simon and Schuster released Brown's hardcover autobiography, Basic Brown: My Life and Our Times. Later that year, Brown began writing a column for the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2009, Brown is defended general construction contractor Monica Ung, 49 of Alamo, California. In 2012, Brown became an investor and lawyer for Wingz, a Real-time Ridesharing service.

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