Ronald Dellums

Ronald Dellums

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Ronald Vernie Dellums was born in Oakland, California on 24th November, 1935. After attending Oakland public schools he served in the United States Marine Corps (1954-1956). This was followed by a long period of study at Oakland City University (1958), San Francisco State University (1960) and the University of California (1962).

Dellums worked as a psychiatric social worker at the California Department of Hygiene (1962-1964). This was followed by program director of Bayview Community Center (1964-1965), director of the Hunters Point Youth Opportunity Center (1965-1966), planning consultant of the Bay Area Social Planning Council (1966-1967) and director of the Concentrated Employment Program (1967-1968). Dellums worked as a part-time lecturer at the Berkeley Graduate School of Social Welfare.

A member of the Democratic Party, Dellums was elected to the 92nd Congress in 1970. On 22nd December, 1974, Seymour Hersh published an article in the New York Times where he claimed that the Central Intelligence Agency had been involved in domestic spying activities. President Gerald Ford responded by asking Nelson Rockefeller to head a commission to investigate CIA activities in the United States.

Congress also reacted to this information and decided to investigate the entire intelligence community. On 27th January, 1975, the US Senate established the Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities under the chairmanship of Frank Church.

On 19 February 1975, the House of Representatives voted to create a House Select Intelligence Committee. Its first chairman was Lucien Nedzi. Five months later he was replaced by Otis Pike. Dellums became a member of this committee

The House Select Intelligence Committee examined the effectiveness of the CIA and its cost to the taxpayers. The CIA and the White House did not take kindly to this investigation and Pike and his committee had considerable difficulty gaining access to documents. In a letter written to William Colby on 28th July, 1975, Pike claimed that he was not interested in history, sources and methods, or the names of agents. "I am seeking to obtain information on how much of the taxpayers' dollars you spend each year and the basic purposes for which it is spent".

Officially, Henry Kissinger cooperated with the committee but according to Gerald K. Haines, the CIA official historian, he "worked hard to undermine its investigations and to stonewall the release of documents to it". On 4th August, 1975, Pike made a public statement that: "What we have found thus far is a great deal of the language of cooperation and a great deal of the activity of non-cooperation".The final draft report of the Pike Committee claimed that the cooperation of the CIA and the White House was "virtually nonexistent." The report asserted that they had practiced "foot dragging, stonewalling, and deception" in response to committee requests for information.

Senior CIA officials were extremely upset when they first read the draft report. They recommenced deleting large sections of the report, including almost all the budget references. Otis Pike and his committee refused to accept these suggestions. The final report also recommended that Congress draft appropriate legislation to prohibit any significant transfer of funds or significant expenditures of reserve or contingency funds in connection with intelligence activities without specific approval of the Congressional intelligence committees.

On 19th January, 1976, Otis Pike sent the final draft of a 338 page report to the CIA. Mitchell Rogovin, the CIA's Special Counsel for legal affairs, responded with a scalding attack on the report. He complained that the report was an "unrelenting indictment couched in biased, pejorative and factually erroneous terms." He also told Searle Field, staff director of the House Select Committee: "Pike will pay for this, you wait and see....There will be a political retaliation.. We will destroy him for this."

Despite the protests of the CIA, on 23rd January 1976 the committee voted 9 to 7 along party lines to release its report with no substantial changes. Republican Party members on the committee, strongly supported by President Gerald Ford and William Colby, now led the fight to suppress the report. Colby called a press conference to denounce Pike's report, calling it a "totally biased and a disservice to our nation." Colby added that the report gave a thoroughly wrong impression of American intelligence.

Robert McCory, the leading Republican on the House Select Intelligence Committee, made a speech on 26th January, 1976, that the release of the report would endanger the national security of the United States. Three days later the House of Representatives voted 246 to 124 to direct the Pike Committee not to release its report until it "has been certified by the President as not containing information which would adversely affect the intelligence activities of the CIA." Pike was furious and pointed out: "The House just voted not to release a document it had not read. Our committee voted to release a document it had read." Pike was so upset that he threatened not to file a report at all because "a report on the CIA in which the CIA would do the final rewrite would be a lie."

Worried that the report would never be published, someone on the House Select Intelligence Committee leaked the report to Daniel Schorr. He gave it to The Village Voice, which published it in full on 16th February 1976 under the title "The Report on the CIA that President Ford Doesn't Want You to Read." This led to his suspension by CBS and an investigation by the House Ethics Committee in which Schorr was threatened with jail for contempt of Congress if he did not disclose his source. Schorr refused and eventually the committee decided 6 to 5 against a contempt citation.

The publication of the report revealed that Dellums was one of the CIA's main critics.

Ronald Vernie Dellums resigned from Congress on 6th February, 1998. His autobiography, Lying Down with the Lions: A Public Life from the Streets of Oakland to the Halls of Power, was published in 2000.

First of all, it's a delight to receive two letters from you not stamped 'Secret' on every page.... I am seeking to obtain information on how much of the taxpayers' dollars you spend each year and the basic purposes for which it is spent...

I would assume that a reasonable place to look for that statement of account would be in the Budget of the United States Government and while it may be in there, I can't find it. I hope that Mr. Lynn (James Lynn, Director of the Office of Management and Budget) may be able to help me. The Index of the Budget for fiscal year 1976 under the "C's" moves from Center for Disease Control to Chamizal Settlement and to a little old country lawyer, it would seem to me that between those two might have been an appropriate place to find the CIA but it is not there. It's possibly in there somewhere but I submit that it is not there in the manner which the founding fathers intended and the Constitution requires.

What had happened in the United States during the two months since Welch's death? It seemed that the American public had had enough. Almost two years had passed, beginning with publication in May 1974 after a long court battle of The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence,' during which one scandal and "abuse", after another were charged to the CIA, FBI and other security agencies. After an initial overlap with the Watergate episode and the end of the Nixon presidency, the scandals had grown dramatically with revelations of the CIA's subversion of the Allende government in Chile (September 1974) and of the CIA's massive, illegal domestic operations (December 1974). My own book on the CIA' appeared first in January 1975, the same month President Ford appointed the Rockefeller Commission to investigate the CIA's domestic activities, and the same month the Senate established its investigating committee under Senator Frank Church. By February 1976 when the Pike Report was published, a large sector of the American public seemed not to want to hear it - some, no doubt, having no more stomach for scandal, disillusion and moral conflict; others, surely, because they were beginning to realize just how damaging the revelations had become.

When legal proceedings were not in the offing, the access experience was frequently one of foot-dragging, stonewalling, and careful deception.

A few examples should suffice.

The President went on television June 10, 1975, and reassured the nation that the uncompleted work of the Rockefeller Commission would be carried forward by the two intelligence committees of the Congress. The files of the Commission, President Ford announced, would be turned over to both committees


The Committee began requesting those files within the week. We requested and requested.86 We negotiated.

Finally, by threatening to announce publicly that the President's word had not been kept, the files were turned over-in mid-October, some four months late.

In another case, likewise involving basic research information, the Committee in early August, requested a complete set of what has become known as the "Family Jewels." This 693-page document was the very foundation of the current investigations. It had come into existence as the result of an order by former CIA Director James Schlesinger, on May 9, 1973, in the wake of Watergate revelations. Dr. Schlesinger had ordered CIA employees to report any possible past wrongdoing, and those reports were compiled into the "Jewels" on May 21, 1973.

By the end of August, the Committee had been provided only a sanitized version of the document. Letters were sent and negotiations proceeded throughout September. On October 7, 1975, the staff was told that they would not be allowed to see the complete record of wrongdoing as assembled in May 1973.

A second sanitized version was sent in mid-October, but it was hardly less sanitized than the first. As an interesting sidelight, the second version did have one page that was not in the first. It was a photocopy of a lack Anderson newspaper article, nothing more. In the first version, that page had been blanked out, with the message, "This information deleted because it reveals sensitive operational techniques and methods." The second version was not deleted, but it was classified.

The Chairman demanded a complete copy of the report, and was told that one would be forthcoming. None was. As a result, he scheduled a press conference for 12:00 noon on October 11, 1975.

At 11:45 a.m. on October 11, 1975, the report was finally delivered," after the life of the Committee's investigation was more than half over.

These two examples represent some of the most basic research materials available to the Committee. Their contents were crimes, abuses, and questionable conduct, not sophisticated or legitimate intelligence secrets.

Other important information was withheld, such as a Committee request for certain records of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. On August 25, 1975, a letter was sent asking for a copy of the Board's agendas since 1961. No written response to that letter has even been received.

The Board interested the Committee from the standpoint of command and control. There have been numerous recommendations, for example, that a pending executive reorganization make this group the key command and control unit for foreign intelligence?

The Committee is still waiting for the Board's documents to be delivered, despite the fact that the ranking minority member of the Committee took a personal interest in the matter. A month of his efforts produced only a limited right to see certain information, not the documents themselves.

The first matter of business between the CIA and the Committee was a request by the Agency that all of the staff be required to sign six pages of CIA oaths.

These elaborate oaths stipulated, in effect, acceptable conduct for Congressional employees with respect to things CIA had determined were secret. Without oaths, secrets would not be forthcoming. The staff represents, of course, Committee members, but the members were not asked to sign oaths. Perhaps this was because members would not do anything untoward with secrets. More likely, it was because they would protest loudly.

The Committee reminded CIA that subjecting our employees to Executive oaths would violate the concept that Congress is an independent and co-equal branch of government.

It is the Constitutional responsibility of Congress to control its own staff, and this is the course the Committee followed. It required every employee to sign a statement, drafted by the Committee, reflecting the needs and considerations of Congress. and enforced by Congress.

This may seem like so much posturing; but it is important not to underestimate the significance of firmly establishing the premise that a target of an investigation does not lay down ground rules. As the Agency noted, this has not been the case in the past; and it may be one of the reasons this investigation had become necessary lm

The next move was to require the Committee to enter into agreements.

When this was rejected, a modified version of those agreements set forth proposed rules and regulations the Committee would abide by if certain classified information were to be made available. These agreements also included a proposal to "compartment" our staff. Compartmenting would mean dividing them up and restricting their access to each other's work.

The Committee refused to sign. It refused even to agree, as a matter of "understanding," that Executive rules would be binding. Such proposed understandings included allowing intelligence officials to review the notes of investigators before notes could be brought back to Committee offices. Other committees have consistently been subjected to that arrangement.

The FBI then came forward with a six-page agreement that they requested be signed before classified information could be handled by the Committee.

The FBI proposal was even more restrictive than CIA's. Secret documents would be made available in special rooms at the FBI, with FBI monitors present. Notes would be reviewed by FBI agents. After notes had been appropriately sanitized, they would be sent to our offices.

Once again, the Committee refused to sign. It did agree orally to put all future requests for documents in writing. The repercussions of this oral agreement illustrate quite nicely the problem with agreements. A few days later the Committee received a letter from the Justice Department stating that requests for materials that had been made a month earlier by Committee members in public hearings had not been fulfilled. Even though FBI officials had publicly agreed to furnish the documents promptly, the requests had not been "in writing."

I supported the committee majority in bringing to the House of Representatives those recommendations finally adopted by the committee. However, this should not indicate my approval of all the adopted recommendations; several are not strong enough and several additional recommendations should have been adopted.

These recommendations should stimulate extremely important and timely discussion, debate and consensus about such vital and basic questions as:

(1) Is secrecy compatible with principles of democracy ostensibly embodied in our constitutional form of government.

(2) If and where is secrecy necessary.

(3) How much secrecy is required and what forms should it take.

(4) What safeguards against abuse are required.

(5) What, if any, are our legitimate and necessary intelligence needs.

(6) How much change, restructuring, and/or elimination of organizations are required to meet on the one hand the "legitimate" intelligence needs of our Nation, and on the other hand safeguard against abuse of people, power, and the Constitution?

(7) Our world continues its rapid changes and shifts, what level of our already limited resources do we perceive as necessary

to meet our intelligence needs.

These and other questions must be discussed and debated within an atmosphere of reason. To resolve these questions and reach some consensus, it will demand the best within each of us as representatives of the people. The issues both implicitly and explicitly raised by the committee recommendations are of extreme importance and must be addressed within that context.

I oppose the committee's recommendation regarding: (A) A House Committee on Intelligence, insofar as, " The committee shall have exclusive jurisdiction ... for all covert action operations." I believe that this information should be more widely shared. Discerning oversight is facilitated by involving several relevant committees, and I think jurisdiction over covert action operations should be shared with those committees presently involved.

I am opposed to that part of the recommendation regarding: (B) Release of information "The select committee recommends that the rules of the House be revised to provide that any member who reveals any classified information which jeopardizes the national security of the United States may be censored or expelled by a two thirds vote of the House."

"National security" is now an infamous phrase, one open to mischievous interpretation. There is a great danger in constructing a chilling system which allows demagogues the easy opportunity of injuring a member by making reckless charges.

The committee's recommendation on covert action is not satisfactory. The committee recommendations say, "The select committee recommends that all activities involving direct or indirect attempts to assassinate any individual and all paramilitary activities shall be prohibited except in time of war."

We should prohibit all covert action.

We live in a world becoming increasingly smaller and interdependent, a word d in which secrecy and cloak and dagger methods, in my estimation, are anachronisms from the past. They should have no place today in the world we will continue to live in. It seems to me that whatever action this country takes in a world that is becoming this small and this interdependent ought to be overt action. The United States ought to begin to play an aggressive role as an advocate of peace in the world, as an advocate of humanitarian concerns, and frankly I believe that the level of secrecy that we have been exposed to as members of this committee flies in the face of democratic principle.

Many people conveniently wrap themselves quite fully in the flag, but when pressed to the wall on whether or not they are willing seriously to support democratic principles, I find that they are willing to sidestep principle.

Democracy is based on a notion of the development of a consensus. In my estimation covert action does not provide for that consensus. It does not provide for debate needed to achieve consensus. Instead, covert actions are recommended and approved by a small select group of people. The actions can at some point be extremely expensive, at some point extraordinarily risky and at some point fly in the face of open debate on any given question. I think that detrimental to the democratic process.

I am willing to try democracy. My concern is that our democracy has been, for the most part, a charade or merely symbolic, and I am not sure that many of us truly believe in the concept of majority rule.

I am concerned about secretly providing arms and aid to other countries, presidents able to sit down with other presidents and making deals. Yet these things are issues we found that are part of the range of covert actions utilized by this country.

I think our world is much too complicated to continue to function effectively in this manner.

The investigations of the Pike Committee, headed by Democratic Representative Otis Pike of New York, paralleled those of the Church Committee, led by Idaho Senator Frank Church, also a Democrat. While the Church Committee centered its attention on the more sensational charges of illegal activities by the CIA and other components of the IC, the Pike Committee set about examining the CIA's effectiveness and its costs to taxpayers. Unfortunately, Representative Pike, the committee, and its staff never developed a cooperative working relationship with the Agency or the Ford administration.

The committee soon was at odds with the CIA and the White House over questions of access to documents and information and the declassification of materials. Relations between the Agency and the Pike Committee became confrontational. CIA officials came to detest the committee and its efforts at investigation. Many observers maintained moreover, that Representative Pike was seeking to use the committee hearings to enhance his senatorial ambitions, and the committee staff, almost entirely young and anti-establishment, clashed with Agency and White House officials...

Just as he had done with the Rockefeller Commission and the Church Committee, DCI Colby promised his full cooperation to the Pike Committee. Colby, accompanied by Special Counsel Mitchell Rogovin and Enno H. Knoche, Assistant to the Director, met with Pike and Congressman McClory, the ranking Republican on the committee, on 24 July 1975. At the meeting, Colby expressed his continuing belief that the committee would find that the main thrust of US intelligence was "good, solid, and trustworthy."

Pike responded that he had no intention of destroying US intelligence. What he wanted, he told Colby, was to build public and Congressional understanding and support for intelligence by "exposing" as much as possible of its nature without doing harm to proper intelligence activities. Pike related to Colby that he knew the investigation would cause "occasional conflict between us, but that a constructive approach by both sides should resolve it." Privately, Pike indicated that he believed the Agency was a "rogue elephant" out of control, as Senator Church had charged publicly. It needed to be restrained and major reporting reforms initiated.

Colby, unaware of Pike's private views, then sought an agreement with Pike and McClory on procedural matters much like the Agency had negotiated with the Church Committee. Colby outlined his responsibility for protecting sources and methods and the complexity posed in meeting "far-flung requests for all documents and files" relating to a given topic.

Pike would have none of Colby's reasoning. He assured the DCI that the committee had its own security standards. He also refused to allow the CIA or the executive branch to stipulate the terms under which the committee would receive or review classified information. Pike insisted, moreover, that the committee had the authority to declassify intelligence documents unilaterally. He appeared bent on asserting what he saw as the Constitutional prerogatives of the legislative branch over the executive branch, and the CIA was caught in the middle.

Given Pike's position, the committee's relationship with the Agency and the White House quickly deteriorated. It soon became open warfare.

Confrontation would be the key to CIA and White House relationships with the Pike Committee and its staff. Early on, Republican Representative James Johnson set the tone for the relationship when he told Seymour Bolten, chief of the CIA Review Staff, "You, the CIA, are the enemy." Colby came to consider Pike a "jackass" and his staff "a ragtag, immature and publicity-seeking group." Even Colby's rather reserved counsel, Mitch Rogovin, saw Pike as "a real prickly deal with." Rogovin believed Pike was not really wrong in his position. "He just made it so goddamn difficult. You also had to deal with Pike's political ambitions."

The CIA Review Staff, which worked closely with both the Church Committee and Pike Committee staffs, never developed the same cooperative relationship with the Pike Committee staffers that it did with the Church Committee. The Review Staff pictured the Pike staffers as "flower children, very young and irresponsible and naive."

According to CIA officer Richard Lehman, the Pike Committee staffers were "absolutely convinced that they were dealing with the devil incarnate." For Lehman, the Pike staff "came in loaded for bear." Donald Gregg, the CIA officer responsible for coordinating Agency responses to the Pike Committee, remembered, "The months I spent with the Pike Committee made my tour in Vietnam seem like a picnic. I would vastly prefer to fight the Viet Cong than deal with a polemical investigation by a Congressional committee, which is what the Pike Committee [investigation] was." An underlying problem was the large cultural gap between officers trained in the early years of the Cold War and the young staffers of the anti-Vietnam and civil rights movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

As for the White House, it viewed Pike as "unscrupulous and roguish." Henry Kissinger, while appearing to cooperate with the committee, worked hard to undermine its investigations and to stonewall the release of documents to it. Relations between the White House and the Pike Committee became worse as the investigations progressed. William Hyland, an assistant to Kissinger, found Pike "impossible."

Pike and the committee members were just as frustrated. On 4 August 1975, Pike aired his frustration in a committee hearing. "What we have found thus far is a great deal of the language of cooperation and a great deal of the activity of noncooperation," he announced. Other committee members felt that trying to get information from the Agency or the White House was like "pulling teeth."

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Ronald Vernie Dellums

Ronald Vernie Dellums was born on 24 November 1935 in Oakland, California. Dellums’ parents were Willa Terry Dellums (mother) and Vernie Dellums (father). His mother was a labour organizer and his father a longshoreman.

Dellums attended Saint Patrick Catholic School. Unable to get a college scholarship, he served in the United States Marine Corps from 1954 to 1956. With the help of the G.I. Bill, he attended San Francisco College, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1960. In 1962, he received his Master’s degree in Social Welfare from the University of California at Berkeley. In the same year he began his career as a psychiatric social worker in the Department of Mental Hygiene in Berkeley. Dellums got involved in community politics when he taught at San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley.

In 1967, after he was elected to the Berkeley City Council, he became known as a spokesperson for African American Community Affairs and for his radical political beliefs. Dellums was elected to Congress at the age of 35 years. He emerged as the most radical outspoken Congressman in Washington. Few weeks after his election, he called for Congressional investigations into alleged American war crimes in Vietnam. He co- founded the Congressional Black Caucus. After two years in this position, he started a campaign to end the apartheid in South Africa. The next year, he introduced the Comprehensive Anti- Apartheid Act which called for sanctions against South Africa.

Dellums remained in Congress until his resignation on 6 February 1998. After his resignation, he wrote his autobiography, Lying Down with the Lions: A Public Life from the Streets of Oakland to the Halls Power.
In June 2006, he was nominated as the mayor of Oakland. After his term as a mayor, including getting the largest grant in Oakland history, he refused to run for elections in 2010.
Ronald Vernie Dellums died at his home in Washington on 30 July 2018 at the age of 82. He is survived by his widow, Cynthia Dellums and their four children.

Ron Dellums, former congressman and Oakland mayor, dies at age 82

1 of 26 During a press conference to announce an additional $3.45 million in stimulus funds, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums meets with members of the media near the Lake Merritt wildlife sanctuary on Thursday April 22, 2010 in Oakland Calif. Mike Kepka / The Chronicle 2010 Show More Show Less

2 of 26 FILE - In this Sept. 26, 1979 file photo Jane Fonda stands beside, Rep. Ronald Dellums, D-Calif., right, in Washington. Dellums, a fiery anti-war activist who championed social justice as Northern California's first black congressman, has died at age 82. Longtime adviser Dan Lindheim says Dellums died early Monday, July 30, 2018, at his home in Washington, D.C., of cancer. (AP Photo/John Duricka, File) John Duricka / Associated Press 1979 Show More Show Less

President George Bush, exclaims "Jesus" after viewing the collapsed Cypress Structure section of I-880 where the majority of victims died during the Loma Prieta earthquake October 20, 1989 To his left are Leo McCarthy and Ron Dellums, Quentin Kopp is behind him, amd Oakland Mayor Lionel Wilson is second to the right of him.

Steve Ringman/San Francisco Chronicle Show More Show Less

5 of 26 Representative Ron Dellums takes a breath after finishing the Nike Capital Challenge a 3 mile race that members of Congress and government officials took part in, September 9, 1982. Show More Show Less

7 of 26 Mayor-elect Ron Dellums met with teenagers at a town hall-style meeting in Oakland, Calif. on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2006. Dellums sought questions from the young residents of Oakland and described the goals he hopes to accomplish when he takes the oath of office in January. PAUL CHINN/The Chronicle Ran on: 12-03-2006 Ron Dellums tells teens at Claremont Middle School that Oakland&aposs youth will be his top priority when he takes over as mayor. Ran on: 12-03-2006 Ron Dellums tells teens at Claremont Middle School that Oakland&aposs youth will be his top priority when he takes over as mayor. PAUL CHINN / SFC Show More Show Less

8 of 26 Former East Bay congressman Ron Dellums, with his wife Cynthia Lewis Dellums at his side, announced his candidacy for mayor of Oakland during an energetic gathering at Laney College on 10/7/05 in Oakland, Calif. PAUL CHINN/The Chronicle PAUL CHINN Show More Show Less

10 of 26 Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums delivers his state of the city address on Monday, Jan. 26, 2009, in Oakland, Calif. Noah Berger/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums talks to the protesters outside city hall in Oakland, Calif. on January 14, 2009. Later, protesters walked down 14th Street to the Superior Court Building on Oak Street to protest the killing of Oscar Grant by a BART police officer.

Michael Maloney/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

13 of 26 Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and his wife Cynthia greet people after the state of the city speech to hundreds, Monday Feb. 22, 2010, in Oakland, Calif. In his speech he spoke of how the cities crime rate has dropped, the creation of hundreds of jobs and thanks his staff and the citizens of Oakland. Lacy Atkins/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

14 of 26 Ron Dellums and his wife Cynthia at the victory party on June 6, 2006 after his successful run for the Oakland mayor's office. Lacy Atkins/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

16 of 26 Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums lowers his head in memory of the victims of the Loma Prieta Earthquake during a ceremony Commemorating the 20th anniversary and honoring both victims and rescuers in Oakland Saturday Oct 17, 2009 Lance Iversen/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

17 of 26 Outgoing Oakland Mayor, and state Attorney General-elect, Jerry Brown (left), walks with Oakland Mayor-elect Ron Dellums after a Democratic Party victory rally in Oakland, Calif. on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006. PAUL CHINN Show More Show Less

Mayor Gavin Newsom (left) and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums take part in a Q & A session with 1,200 Bay Area business leaders at the annual Mayors Economic Forecast conference in San Francisco, Calif. on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007.

20 of 26 Oakland Mayor-elect Jean Quan and current mayor Ron Dellums participate in a public hearing convened by the California chapter of the NAACP in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010. The meeting was called in the wake of the police shooting that killed Derrick Jones on Nov. 8. Paul Chinn/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

Oakland City Mayor Ron Dellums speaks during a press conference after a protest in downtown Oakland over the involuntary manslaughter conviction of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle for the shooting death of Oscar Grant, July 9, 2010 in Oakland, California.

David Paul Morris/Special To The Chronicle Show More Show Less

23 of 26 After a press conference to announce an additional $3.45 million in stimulus funds, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums takes a call on his cell phone near the Lake Merritt wildlife sanctuary on Thursday April 22, 2010 in Oakland Calif. Mike Kepka/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

25 of 26 Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums releases a dove over the crowd at the vigil for the slain police officers. Lacy Atkins/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

Ron Dellums, a Marine turned antiwar activist and feisty Democratic politician, was never one to walk away from a fight, no matter who started it.

Dellums, who died Monday at age 82, made that clear during his first run for Congress in 1970, when Republican Vice President Spiro Agnew, speaking for President Richard Nixon&rsquos White House, pointedly branded the young Berkeley councilman as &ldquoan out and out radical&rdquo who needed to be &ldquopurged from the body politic&rdquo for his stance against the war in Vietnam and up-front fight against social ills.

The attack, like many others to come during his decades on the political battlefield, never fazed him.

&ldquoIf it&rsquos radical to oppose the insanity and cruelty of the Vietnam War, if it&rsquos radical to oppose racism and sexism and all other forms of oppression, if it&rsquos radical to want to alleviate poverty, hunger, disease, homelessness, and other forms of human misery, then I&rsquom proud to be called a radical,&rdquo he told a scrum of reporters at his campaign headquarters.

The unbridled passion behind that fiery rebuttal was characteristic of Dellums&rsquo long political career, which included 27 years in Congress and a term as Oakland&rsquos mayor. Dellums died at his home in Washington, D.C., after a battle with cancer.

Known for his trenchant speeches and unbending liberal views, Dellums started his adult life as a social worker and political organizer in Berkeley, and brought those sensibilities to Washington. He later used his connections on Capitol Hill to benefit Oakland, when he served four years as mayor.

Born Ronald Vernie Dellums on Nov. 24, 1935, he was raised in 1940s-era West Oakland, at that time a predominantly black district that teemed with barbershops, nightclubs, restaurants and stores.

Dellums was a fighter from his early childhood. He learned early not to take guff from anyone, including the well-off, sharply dressed white kids at Westlake Junior High School in the Westlake neighborhood near Lake Merritt, where Dellums was among only 14 black students.

Once during a study-hall period in eighth grade, Dellums came to blows with a boy who called him a &ldquodirty black African.&rdquo Recounting the incident in his autobiography, &ldquoLying Down with the Lions,&rdquo Dellums said the boy was trying &ldquoto cut me down verbally, but all my neighborhood practice (of trading insults) was getting the best of him.&rdquo

When the boy hurled a racial slur, Dellums recalled feeling a sharp spasm of rage. He leaped up and pummeled his adversary, stopping only when other kids shouted that a teacher was coming. Later on he bragged about the fight to his mother, who chastened him for regarding the words &ldquoblack&rdquo and &ldquoAfrican&rdquo as insults.

&ldquoI think you should have fought only because he called you dirty, if that made you angry enough,&rdquo she chided. In the days that followed, Dellums wrote, she began bringing home books and magazines from the library to teach her children about their African heritage.

After graduating from Oakland Technical High School, Dellums joined the Marine Corps, served two years, attended San Francisco State University, where he earned a bachelor&rsquos degree in psychology, then went to UC Berkeley and got a master&rsquos degree in social work. In 1967, he won election to the Berkeley City Council, where he served three years before challenging incumbent Rep. Jeffery Cohelan in the 1970 Democratic primary.

Cohelan, a former union leader and Berkeley councilman, was a traditionally liberal labor Democrat, but that wasn&rsquot enough for an East Bay district moving quickly to the left and becoming noisily antiwar. Dellums easily won the primary and the general election in November, becoming the first African American elected to Congress from Northern California.

&ldquoRon was adamant about serving the community and making sure people received a response from their government,&rdquo said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, who entered politics as a graduate student intern for Dellums. &ldquoHe would say that the only question we should ask when we made decisions about anything is: &lsquoIs this the right thing to do?&rsquo Don&rsquot ask about political expedience. That&rsquos how he got his staff to think.&rdquo

Lee and others saw Dellums as a staunch supporter of three social movements that converged in the Bay Area during the 1960s: the free-speech movement, the Black Panther Party movement and the antiwar movement. It was a period of rowdy protests on college campuses and bloody standoffs between demonstrators and police.

&ldquoThat was a tumultuous era,&rdquo said Lee Halterman, a longtime congressional staffer who was Dellums&rsquo deputy campaign manager in 1970. &ldquoWhat drew me? His idealism. He was a champion for issues that we as student activists were fighting for.&rdquo

As a congressman, Dellums is best remembered for his uncompromising opposition to the Vietnam War and compelling speeches on the House floor.

&ldquoHe really came to Congress as an activist,&rdquo Halterman said. &ldquoHe would go to the floor and challenge his colleagues, and they would challenge him back. And that&rsquos how he learned to work with them rather than just name-calling.&rdquo

In his autobiography, Dellums recounted many tense confrontations with other elected officials, some of whom saw the fiery, Oakland-raised peacenik as a political outlier &mdash and even as an agitator.

Such perceptions sometimes led to insults. When Dellums went to the House Armed Services Committee in 1973, the committee&rsquos chairman, Rep. F. Edward Hebert, left only one seat on the dais for Dellums to share with another antiwar Democrat, Rep. Pat Schroeder of Denver.

Recalling the incident in his autobiography, Dellums said he responded with poise. &ldquoLet&rsquos not give these guys the luxury of knowing they can get under our skin,&rdquo he told Schroeder.

Hebert &ldquodidn&rsquot want this radical &lsquobomb-thrower from Berkeley&rsquo on his committee,&rdquo Halterman said. &ldquoThe irony is that 20 years later, Ron became chair, and people were saying, &lsquoIf only people ran the committee as fairly as Ron does.&rsquo&rdquo

Dellums, Halterman recalled, said &lsquoHey, I remember being locked out, I&rsquom not going to shut others out.&rsquo&rdquo

Over the years, Dellums earned the respect of his peers. He embraced his radical left-wing status and used it strategically, presenting liberal policy ideas that would shift the debate further left, even when he knew they were too extreme to win a majority vote.

&ldquoFrom Day One, he understood that he was the left-wing, pinko guy from Berkeley, and whatever he said demarcated the left end of the debate,&rdquo said longtime congressional staffer Dan Lindheim, who later served as Dellums&rsquo city administrator in Oakland.

Dellums was also a consummate wheeler-dealer, willing to compromise at key moments. He had an uncanny talent for pulling people over to his side.

&ldquoWhen you think of the great speakers, the top four or five orators of the House of Representatives, Ron was on that list,&rdquo Halterman said. &ldquoPeople would come to the floor to listen to him. They would leave the back chambers. They would leave the caucus room.&rdquo

Dellums served 13 consecutive terms in Congress, chairing the House Committee on the District of Columbia &mdash on which he successfully pushed for funding to combat infant mortality and develop affordable housing &mdash and the Armed Services Committee, on which he led the fight to severely curtail production of B-2 bomber planes. In 1986, he sponsored comprehensive economic sanctions to protest the apartheid regime in South Africa.

In 1997, Dellums announced his resignation from Congress, setting up a special election to fill out the remainder of his term. He endorsed Lee, a former member of his staff, who had served time in the state Assembly and was a state senator at the time. When Lee formally announced her candidacy at a party at Oakland&rsquos Lake Merritt Boathouse, Dellums was there to support her. She won easily.

Former CBC Chairman Ronald Dellums Remembered as Passionate Progressive

Ronald Dellums , a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, a former chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives District of Columbia and Armed Services Committees and a past mayor of Oakland, Calif., died July 30 at the age of 82 at his home in the District.

“It is with deep sadness that I can confirm the passing of a great warrior and statesman, Congressman Ronald Dellums,” U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who once was a Dellums congressional staffer and succeeded him in the House in 1998, said. “The contributions that Congressman Dellums made to our East Bay community, the nation and the world are too innumerable to count. I feel blessed to have called Congressman Dellums my dear friend, predecessor and mentor.” Dellums had been fighting cancer.

Democratic Congressional candidate Ron Dellums, his wife, Roscoe, left, clasp hands with Mrs. Coretta Scott King, right, widow of Martin Luther King in Oakland, Calif. in 1972. Dellums, a fiery anti-war activist who championed social justice as Northern California’s first Black congressman, died Monday, July 30, 2018, at age 82 from cancer. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)

Dellums is being praised as a passionate progressive that didn’t hesitate to speak truth to power. He started in politics with his service as a member of the Berkeley, Calif., City Council in 1967 and served until 1970, when he was elected to the House.

Dellums served in the House from 1971-1979. He was a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in 1971 and chairman of the CBC from 1989-1991.

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation described Dellums as a groundbreaking visionary.

“The CBCF will always be grateful for visionaries like Ron who marched through the line of fire and encouraged a generation of upcoming political and community leaders to focus on creating ideas that prevail in good times and bad,” said A. Shaunise Washington, president and CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. “He will be cemented in history as a lifelong advocate for justice, peace and civility.”

Dellums also chaired the House District Committee from 1979-1993 and was praised by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) for his work on behalf of the city.

“District of Columbia residents will always be grateful to Ron for his chairmanship of the District, before and after Home Rule,” Norton said. “Ron chaired the Committee on the District of Columbia, which no longer exists, for 14 years and always sought increasing empowerment for the city, from strengthening our role in the Congress to fighting for D.C. statehood. In effect, Ron Dellums took care of two districts, his own in the East Bay area and the District of Columbia.”

CBC Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), said the late California lawmaker was a force to be reckoned with.

“A pioneer in his own right, Mr. Dellums paved the way on several policy fronts during his 27 years in Congress,” Richmond said. “More than 30 years ago, he worked to pass critical anti-Apartheid legislation imposing economic sanctions on the South African government. He also served as the first Black chairman of the House Armed Services Committee where he valiantly fought to reduce excessive military spending, limit gratuitous military activity abroad and repeal the ban on gay and lesbian service members.”

After his years in Congress ended in 1979, he worked as a lobbyist until his election as mayor of Oakland in 2006. He left elected politics for good in 2011.

Dellums was born in Oakland and attended its public schools. He got his bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University in 1960 and a master’s in social work for the University of California, Berkeley in 1962.

California Berkeley issued a statement on Dellums, saying “Dellums changed the course of history through his career in public service and this loss will be felt here in the Bay Area and across the country.”

Details on Dellums’ funeral were not available at press time.


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Ronald Dellums - History

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Ron Dellums
National Visionary

Born November 24, 1935
Oakland, California

First African American elected to Congress from Northern California, founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and current mayor of Oakland, CA

A life-long advocate of peace and social justice, Ron Dellums was re-elected 13 times and served for 27 uninterrupted years as an outspoken and controversial, but highly respected member of the US House of Representatives. Initially seeking a life in education, community activism and social work, Dellums was called to public office in 1967. His tenure in politics has been defined by a strong adherence to the principles of social progress, community activism and peace as viable and necessary national and international pursuits. In 2007, Dellums returned to public office as the Mayor of Oakland, California.

Throughout his tenure in the House, Dellums consistently advocated for peaceful resolutions to non-military conflict, an end to dangerous military arms buildups and social and economic justice for oppressed peoples at home and abroad. He worked to end US involvement in Vietnam and served as a plaintiff in support of anti-war protestors the resulting case, Dellums v. Powell established a precedent protecting the rights of citizens to petition government officials. Dellums was also a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to support and advance the agenda of urban housing, education, transportation, health care and economic development. In 1972 Dellums began his campaign to end the apartheid system in South Africa, authoring bills to withhold support from the apartheid South African regime, and in 1986 managing to get "the Dellums Amendment" passed, a bill that called for American divestment of corporations from South Africa. In 1973 Dellums secured a seat on the powerful House Armed Services Committee (HASC), and in 1992 he was appointed chairman of that committee. As a member of the HASC he worked to cut military spending that he believed destabilized security and drained resources from much needed domestic programs. During his tenure Dellums served on numerous other committees. When he left office in 1998, after 27 years of distinguished service, Dellums was lauded for his fairness, his willingness to listen, his adherence to principles and his intellect.

As a private citizen, Dellums became the president of Healthcare International Management, an organization that worked with the newly democratic South African government to develop low cost, affordable healthcare and bring awareness, prevention and treatment in response to the AIDS epidemic. Most recently, Dellums was elected mayor of Oakland, California and assumed office in January, 2007. Dellums' extraordinary and courageous political career has brought him a number of accolades, most notably the Defense Department's Medal of Distinguished Public Service and Peace Action's Lifetime Achievement Award.


&bull Ron Dellums Wikipedia Page


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No portion of this web site may be reproduced without written consent from the National Visionary Leadership Project®

Radical Representative or Communist Colleague?

Dellums ’ s contentious nature in defending his beliefs has irked Republicans and even some cautious, moderate Democrats. He refuses to shade his opinions with decorum. “ America is a nation of niggers. If you ’ re black, you ’ re a nigger. If you ’ re an amputee, you ’ re a nigger. Blind people, the handicapped, radical environmentalists, poor whites, those too far to the left are all niggers, ” Dellums was quoted as saying in Politics in America. Even at the beginning of his congressional career, Dellums was not afraid to openly attack the established order. The authors of Mug Shots related an early Dellums diatribe: “ We ’ ve always subsidized major corporations. We ’ ve subsidized electronics firms. We ’ ve subsidized oil millionaires with oil depletion allowances. We ’ ve subsidized farm combines. We ’ ve subsidized airlines. I ’ d like to have a bill passed that gave the poor a brand new industry and then have the government subsidize it. ”

Some conservative critics claim that these condemnations merely reflect a representative more concerned with showmanship than statesmanship, and that Dellums ’ s early focus has become in subsequent years outdated. As a Politics in America writer noted: “ His late- ’ 60s rhetoric often sounds out of place [now], but he still offers it the way he did in the beginning: with a great deal of vigor, flashes of eloquence, and a casual disregard for orderly procedure. It is the oratorical flourishes of the floor that have attracted him, rather than the tedious work of committee business. ”

Michael Barone and Grant Ujifusa in The Almanac of American Politics sought to dismiss Dellums ’ s effectiveness, taking further the idea that his beliefs are antiquated: “ He believes, as civil rights marchers did, that American society is infected with racism he believes, as poverty warriors once did, that government should be much more generous to the poor he believes, as Vietnam war protestors did, that American military spending is excessive and threatens world peace. ” But others are more contemptuous in their assessment of Dellums, believing his capabilities and activities might subvert American policies. A reporter for the National Review claimed that in addition to the Soviet-front World Peace Council, Dellums “ also had chummy personal ties to the Communist government of Grenada and to [Cuban dictator] Fidel Castro himself. ” And Joshua Muravchik, writing in the New Republic, questioned Dellums ’ s integrity after he was placed on the House Intelligence Committee: “ [Dellums] has so often embraced some of the very movements and governments on which America collects intelligence that it is hard to see how U.S. agencies can function while obligated to share with him their most sensitive secrets. ”

Leola "Roscoe" Dellums

Washington, D.C. attorney Leola "Roscoe" Dellums was born in Berkeley, California, on December 12, 1941, representing the third generation of her family to live there. Dellums' mother, Esther L. Higgs, was a musician and early crusader in the civil rights movement, and her father, Leo, was the first African American realtor in California. Dellums traces her ancestry back to Revolutionary War veterans. While attending high school, Dellums was a regular on TV's Dance Party and was inducted into the National Thespian Society. In 1959, she went to San Francisco State University, where she became the first black pom-pom girl and the first African American on the homecoming court. Dellums left school in 1962 to marry, and returned several years later to earn a B.A. in sociology. She later earned a J.D. from Georgetown University.

Dellums' early career found her teaching English as a second language in 1966, as well as working in television in both California and Washington, D.C. By 1974, she had combined the two into consulting on educational television programs in the D.C. area. She also worked as a reporter and broadcaster for various news programs throughout the Washington metro area from 1972 into the 1980s. In 1976, Dellums joined the American Civil Liberties Union as a publicist and remained there for two years. Dellums went to the House of Representatives in 1983 to work as a special assistant to Representative Mickey Leland, and in 1984 became a judicial law clerk in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. From 1985 to 1992, Dellums worked in the California Assembly Office of Research as a consultant to state representatives in Washington and leadership in California. Beginning her legal practice in 1993, Dellums went to work at Washington & Christian, specializing in government relations and lobbying. In 1995, she opened her own law firm.

In addition to her extensive experience in a wide variety of fields, Dellums has published poetry and written songs and also wrote the script for a Disney Channel movie about her family. She is the recipient of a Solid Image Award and the National Sojourner Truth Meritorious Service Award and is listed in Who's Who Among Black Americans. She is a board member of the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence, the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame National Advisory Board, and a former member of the San Francisco State University Alumni Board.

Dellums was married to California Congressman Ronald V. Dellums for thirty-seven years. She has three children and three grandchildren.


It is refreshing and inspiring when a movie can be both entertaining and enlightening.

So much the better when that movie can offer those attributes to a young audience.

The Disney Channel's original film scheduled specifically for Black History Month, The Color of Friendship (7:30 and 8:55 p.m. Saturday), is just such a movie. It dramatizes the true story of a black congressman, Ron Dellums (Carl Lumbly) who, while fighting for legislation to end apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s, agrees to a request from his wife and children to have their family host an exchange student from South Africa.

The story is told mostly through the eyes of his 13-year-old daughter Piper (Shadia Simmons) and the exchange student, Mahree (Lindsay Haun).

The family begins gathering traditional African garb and musical instruments to welcome the exchange student, but it turns out that the student preparing to join the Dellums family is the white daughter of a South African policeman, who assumed that she would be greeted by the family of a white politician.

After coming to grips with the awkward situation, Mahree learns to understand the injustice of apartheid, and eventually returns to her homeland to share her experience with family and friends. (Mahree is actually a composite of two exchange students who stayed with the Dellums, both of whom were surprised at the situation, as were the Dellums. Only one of the real-life exchange students had a positive reaction, while the other's experience was less enlightening or life-altering, according to Lumbly and director Kevin Hooks.)

Simmons and Haun are terrific in conveying the initial confusion and the subsequent tension and uncertainties of each new social situation and misconstrued casual comment. Mahree bonds with her American family after an incident in which she is taken from the Dellums' home against her will by South African Embassy officials, who insist without explanation that she must return to the Republic of South Africa immediately following riots there sparked by the killing of political activist Steven Biko. Dellums uses his influence to keep the girl in America until things cool down back home.

It's a terrific story that is wonderfully told and thoroughly fulfilling.

By MANUEL MENDOZA The Dallas Morning News

Anybody remember who killed Laura Palmer?

While that question was the one organizing principle in Twin Peaks, the show was better-known for its off-kilter narrative detours, deadpan-bizarre characters and haunting moodiness.

Bravo begins re-airing the David Lynch/Mark Frost series tonight to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the show's premiere. It lasted less than two seasons, playing to a diminishing audience confused and frustrated by its surreal story lines.

In retrospect, Twin Peaks, which will air at 8 p.m. Fridays, was as good as it was weird -- at least until the killer was revealed. Without some focus to return to, the series had no place else to go.

The same Lynchian themes that marked Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart -- dark violence and sexuality with the possibility of redemption just around the corner -- were present. So were the cherry-pie-gobbling, "damn fine coffee"-swilling FBI agent (Kyle MacLachlan) investigating the murder composer Angelo Badalamenti's eerie music and the befuddling townspeople.

Watch the video: Ron Dellums, Mayor, City of Oakland (July 2022).


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