On Friday, October 15, 2010 Augustus F. Hawkins family portrait was inducted into the California African-American Museum in Los Angeles. The evening event included civil rights activists, politicians, educators, clergy, students, parents, and more. He was called “Gus” Hawkins by many, and was the first African- American from California to serve as an assemblyman, and then congressman, representing South Los Angeles. His legislative legacy includes a key role in shaping federal statutes, most importantly as sponsor of the equal employment section of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act that created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Gus Hawkins (who was fair skinned and at times mistaken for caucasian) was very instrumental in helping develop the “National Blueprint for Action” a curriculum that directs all stakeholders in educating black children. The blueprint is one of the most (if not the most) comprehensive documents ever designed to ensure academic success for students, particularly African American students. The blueprint is predicated on “effective schools” research pioneered by the late Dr. Ron Edmonds. A Steering committee was formed in 1986 co-chaired by Dr. Owen L. Knox, Assistant Superintendent in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and Dr. Faustine Jones-Wilson, Professor of Education at Howard University.
Two committees of African-American leaders from the east and west coast agreed on a national conference, later to be named the “National Council on Educating Black Children” which has Regional Councils located throughout the country, to locally distribute the blueprint and acquaint local communities with its implementation. On the west coast one such organization is the Western Regional Council on Educating Black Children, and was instrumental in Gus Hawkins induction into the California African-American Museum.
Many legislators have given Gus Hawkins credit as a mentor, and trail blazer for civil rights legislation to protect and support poor and working people. Rep. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) said Hawkins had mentored a generation of black politicians. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), who holds Hawkins’ former seat, called him”the author of some of the most significant legislation ever passed in the house of Congress”. Former Los Angeles County Supervisor, Yvonne B. Burke said that Hawkins “passed on a new tradition—that African Americans can be elected, get high positions in committees and set the tone and become leaders”. Mervyn Dymally, former Assemblyman from Compton, who worked for Hawkins as a coordinator of community groups during the early 60’s said “I owe my presence in politics to Gus Hawkins”.
The induction of Gus Hawkins into the California African-American Museum is a tribute to the life and works of a great American and exceptionally effective legislator. Thank you Gus! What do you think? To give feedback you can use the comment box below, or you may email the author at: [email protected]