Yvonne Brathwaite Burke

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Yvonne Brathwaite Burke
Yvonne burke.jpg
Member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
from District 2
In office
1992 – December 1, 2008
Preceded by Kenneth Hahn
Succeeded by Mark Ridley-Thomas
Member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
from District 4
In office
1979–1980
Preceded by James A. Hayes
Succeeded by Deane Dana
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 28th district
In office
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1979
Preceded by Alphonzo E. Bell, Jr.
Succeeded by Julian C. Dixon
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 37th district
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1975
Preceded by Lionel Van Deerlin
Succeeded by Jerry Pettis
Member of the California State Assembly, 63rd District
Los Angeles, California
In office
January 1967 – January 1973
Preceded by Don A. Allen
Succeeded by Julian C. Dixon
Personal details
Born (1932-10-05) October 5, 1932 (age 81)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Louis Brathwaite (1957-1964 divorce), William A. Burke (1972-present)
Children Autumn Roxanne Burke

Yvonne Brathwaite Burke (born October 5, 1932) is a politician from Los Angeles, California, United States. She was the first African-American woman to represent the West Coast in Congress. She served in congress from 1973 until the end of 1978. She was the Los Angeles County Supervisor representing the 2nd District (1992–2008). She has served as the Chair three times (1993–94, 1997–98, 2002–03). Her husband is William Burke, a prominent philanthropist and creator of the Los Angeles Marathon.

On December 1, 2008, she retired from the Board of Supervisors and was replaced by Mark Ridley-Thomas.

On Thursday, March 29, 2012, she was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Born Perle Yvonne Watson on October 5, 1932, in Los Angeles to James A. Watson and the former Lola Moore.[3][4] She married William A. Burke in Los Angeles on June 14, 1972. To this union was born a daughter, Autumn Roxanne on November 23, 1973.[3][4][5]

Education: Attended University of California at Berkeley, c. 1949-51; University of California at Los Angeles, Bachelor's degree; University of Southern California Law School, Juris Doctorate, 1956.

Early political career[edit]

Prior to representing the 2nd District, Burke served as Vice-Chairperson of the 1972 Democratic National Convention[6] (she was the first African-American to hold that position), represented the 4th District (1979–80), was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives initially representing portions of Los Angeles (1973–79), and was a member of the California State Assembly representing Los Angeles' 63rd District (1966–1972). Many of her early legislative efforts centered around juvenile issues and limiting garnishment of wages.

A lot of what she achieved influenced her to convince others to run after their dream, so she went to children's hospitals and encouraged some of the children to never give up. She said: "No matter what is in your way never give up and chase after your dream, with no interference of discouragement."

Terms in U.S. Congress[edit]

Yvonne Brathwaite Burke

During her tenure in Congress, she served on the House Select Committee on Assassinations and the House Committee on Appropriations; during her tenure on the Appropriations Committee, she fought for increased funding to aid local jurisdictions to comply with desegregation mandates [6]

In 1973, with the birth of her daughter Autumn, Burke became the first Congresswoman to give birth while in office and the first to be granted maternity leave by the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.[6] She did not seek re-election to Congress in 1978 but instead ran for Attorney General of California. She won the Democratic nomination over Los Angeles City Attorney Burt Pines but was defeated in the general election by Republican State Senator George Deukmejian.

California political involvement[edit]

In 1979, shortly after leaving Congress, Governor Jerry Brown appointed her to the Board of Regents of the University of California; but she resigned later that year when Governor Brown appointed her to fill a vacancy on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. Burke was the first female and first African-American supervisor. Her district, however, was largely made up of affluent, conservative white areas on the coast. In 1980, Burke was defeated in her bid for a full term in the seat by Republican Deane Dana. In 1982, Brown again appointed her to the Regents.

In 1992, Burke ran for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. After a hard-fought campaign that often turned negative, Burke defeated State Senator Diane Watson.

In 2007, she announced that she would retire when her term expired in 2008. On July 27, 2007, the Los Angeles Times published a front-page story revealing Burke was not living in the mostly low-income district she represented, but rather in the wealthy Brentwood neighborhood, an apparent violation of state law.[7] Burke responded that she was living at her Brentwood mansion because the townhouse she listed in official political filings was being remodeled.[8]

Bibliography[edit]

Gray, Pamela Lee. "Yvonne Brathwaite Burke: The Congressional Career of California's First Black Congresswoman, 1972–1978." Ph.D. diss., University of Southern California, 1987.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts". White House Office of the Press Secretary. 29 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Merl, Jean (29 March 2012). "Obama Nominates Yvonne Burke to Amtrak Post". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ a b Phelps, Shirelle (editor) (1998). Who's Who Among African Americans (11th Edition). Detroit, Michigan, London: Gale Research. p. 178. ISBN 0-7876-2469-1. 
  4. ^ a b "California Birth Index 1905-1995 [database on-line]". United States: The Generations Network. 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-04. 
  5. ^ "California Marriage Index 1960-1985 [database on-line]". United States: The Generations Network. 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-04. 
  6. ^ a b c "Women in Government: A Slim Past, But a Strong Future". Ebony: 89–92, 96–98. August 1977. 
  7. ^ Leonard, Jack, and Lait, Matt. Burke has residence far removed from her constituency. Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2007.
  8. ^ Prince, Richard. L.A. Times Stakes Out Politician's Digs. Richard Prince's Journal-isms, July 27, 2007.

Further reading[edit]

  • Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, Africana: The Encyclopedia.
  • Ebony, (September, 1967). "Women Who Make State Laws": p27-34.

External links[edit]

California Assembly
Preceded by
Don A. Allen
California State Assemblymember, 63rd District
1967-1973
Succeeded by
Julian C. Dixon
Political offices
Preceded by
James A. Hayes
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
4th district

1979–1980
Succeeded by
Deane Dana
Preceded by
Kenneth Hahn
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
2nd district

1992–2008
Succeeded by
Mark Ridley-Thomas
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Lionel Van Deerlin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 37th congressional district

1973-1975
Succeeded by
Jerry Lyle Pettis
Preceded by
Alphonzo E. Bell, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 28th congressional district

1975-1979
Succeeded by
Julian C. Dixon