Willie Brown is something of a political legend in California. He served as the first African-American Speaker of the California State Assembly, as well as the first African-American Mayor of San Francisco, and he gained national notoriety with his now-infamous “Give me back my delegation” speech at the 1972 Democratic National Convention (see video below).
It was that speech — a stirring, fiery plea for justice – that IBEW 1245 Business Manager Tom Dalzell recalls as one of the most eye-opening moments of his youth.
“When I saw Willie Brown give that speech at the DNC in ‘72, my 21-year-old eyes opened up, and ever since then, he’s been a hero of mine,” Dalzell told the Advisory Council. “He was my hero when he was speaker of the State Assembly, he was my hero when he was mayor of San Francisco, he was my hero when he came out here in 2012 to help us fight Prop 32, and he’s still my hero today.”
At 83 years old, Willie Brown remains one of the most inspirational and compelling speakers to ever grace the stage at an IBEW 1245 Advisory Council meeting. He captured the attention of every member in the room as he shared anecdotes, insights and motivating words of encouragement in regards to the political power of organized labor.
“We need to do the work to make sure labor doesn’t become an asterisk in this country. We have an incredible opportunity … I personally believe there’s not a district in this nation that we can’t win,” Brown told the Advisory Council. “It is time for us to go back to where I was in 1972. Don’t give me back my delegation, but give me back my country!”