On December 12, 1995, Willie Brown made history in becoming San Francisco’s first Black mayor. Brown won a special run-off election after handily defeating former mayor and police chief Frank Jordan as their November contest was a far closer race.

Willie Lewis Brown Jr., born March 20, 1934, was born in Mineola, Texas. The San Francisco State College math teacher hopeful discovered a love for politics while in undergrad and earned a political science degree in 1955. He then entered Hastings College of The Law, earning his J.D. in 1958.

After a short and fruitful legal career, Brown entered politics and was elected to the State Assembly in 1964 and represented three districts before becoming the first Black speaker of the assembly in 1980, serving until 1995 and his mayoral race.

Despite the allegations of corruption and cronyism that followed him into his mayoral post, Brown was a popular figure in the Bay Area and beyond. The November 7, 1995 race saw Brown narrowly edging his challenger, prompting the need for a run-off. With lower voter turnout that the general election, Brown still managed to breeze by Jordan ahead of serving two terms.

Brown served as may from January 1996 to January 2004. After City Hall, he went on to practice law and involved himself in business ventures. In recent times, the Alpha man can be seen serving as a political pundit in both radio and cable news.


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