Lawmakers to honor African-American leaders

The California Legislative Black Caucus will be honoring several pioneers in an Assembly floor ceremony Thursday morning as part of Black History Month.

“It is only appropriate that the Assembly show its appreciation for their distinguished careers and contributions toward improving the quality of life for the people of California,” caucus chairman Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Alameda, said today.

“At the end of the day, Black history is America’s history, and it is a fundamental part of our heritage as Americans. This month is an opportunity to share our history, our heritage, and our legends. It reminds us of what people can accomplish, and inspires the next generation of young Americans to even greater accomplishments.”

Follow me after the jump for a list of the honorees…

Those to be honored Thursday include:

  • Alvin “Al” Attles Jr., the Golden State Warriors’ first African-American coach, who led them to one NBA title, one conference title, two division titles, and six playoff appearances;
  • Jim Brown, former NFL running back and founder of the Amer-I-Can Program for Social Change;
  • Belva Davis, the West Coast’s first African American woman television reporter and now the anchor of KQED’s “This Week in Northern California;”
  • Doris Davis, who by winning a June 1973 election became the nation’s first African American woman mayor of a large metropolitan city, Compton;
  • Mervyn Dymally, the first foreign-born African American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as the first African American elected to the California State Senate and to serve as the state’s Lieutenant Governor;
  • Charlie Mae Knight of East Palo Alto, who spent 42 years as a public school teacher and superintendent before creating the Knight Foundation to provide housing for the economically disadvantaged;
  • La-Doris McClaney, a real-estate entrepreneur and philanthropist who owned and operated of a residential care facility for people with mental disabilities;
  • Joe Morgan, an Oakland native and National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee who won five Golden Gloves, played in 10 All-Star games and recorded 692 stolen bases, as well as the founder and president of the Joe Morgan Youth Foundation providing college scholarships and supporting development programs and an ESPN commenator; and
  • Morrie Turner, an Oakland native and Berkeley resident who created the “Wee Pals” comic strip in 1965 as a way of bringing African American characters to the comic pages.
  • These people, along with Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles — the first African American woman in U.S. history to serve in such a capacity — also will be recognized at a reception and dinner Wednesday night.

    Josh Richman

    Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.