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Ron Dellums

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Ron Dellums

Ron Dellums
48th Mayor of Oakland
In office
January 8, 2007 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Jerry Brown
Succeeded by Jean Quan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 9th district
In office
January 3, 1993 – February 6, 1998
Preceded by Pete Stark
Succeeded by Barbara Lee
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 8th district
In office
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by Pete Stark
Succeeded by Nancy Pelosi
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1971 – January 3, 1975
Preceded by Jeffery Cohelan
Succeeded by George Miller
Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services
In office
January 20, 1993 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Les Aspin
Succeeded by Floyd Spence
Chairman of the House Committee on the District of Columbia
In office
January 3, 1979 – January 20, 1993
Preceded by Charles Diggs
Succeeded by Pete Stark
Personal details
Born Ronald Vernie Dellums
(1935-11-24) November 24, 1935
Oakland, California
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Athurine (div.)
Leola "Roscoe" Higgs (1962–div 1999)
Cynthia Lewis (m. 2000)
Children Erik, Piper, Brandy, Pam and Michael
Alma mater San Francisco State University, B.A. 1960
University of California, Berkeley School of Social Welfare, M.S.W. 1962
Religion Baptist
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1954–1956
Rank Private First Class

Ronald Vernie "Ron" Dellums (born November 24, 1935) served as Oakland's forty-eighth (and third African-American) mayor. From 1971 to 1998, he was elected to thirteen terms as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Northern California's 9th Congressional District, after which he worked as a lobbyist in Washington D.C..

Dellums was born into a family of labor organizers, and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps before serving on the Berkeley, California, City Council. Dellums was the first African American elected to Congress from Northern California and the first openly socialist successful non-incumbent Congressional candidate since World War II.[2] His politics earned him a place on President Nixon's enemies list.

During his career in Congress, he fought the MX Missile project and opposed expansion of the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber program. When President Ronald Reagan vetoed Dellums' Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, a Democratic-controlled House and a Republican-controlled Senate overrode Reagan's veto, the first override of a presidential foreign policy veto in the 20th century.[3]


  • Early years and family life 1
  • Political career 2
    • Berkeley City Council 2.1
    • U.S. Congress 2.2
      • Vietnam war crimes hearings 2.2.1
      • Anti-apartheid campaign 2.2.2
      • Cold War conflicts in southern Africa 2.2.3
      • Military budgets and arms control 2.2.4
        • Opposition to the MX (Peacekeeper) missile
        • Opposition to the B-2 Stealth Bomber
      • "Dellums v. Bush" (1990) 2.2.5
      • Integration of gays and lesbians in the military 2.2.6
      • U.S. House Committee positions 2.2.7
      • Dellums' last Congressional election 2.2.8
      • Congressional tribute 2.2.9
      • Voting record 2.2.10
      • Dismissal of drug use allegations 2.2.11
    • Presidential nominations 2.3
    • Lobbyist 2.4
    • Mayor of Oakland 2.5
      • 2006 Oakland mayoral election 2.5.1
      • Transition and citizen task forces 2.5.2
      • Public safety initiatives 2.5.3
      • Education Initiatives 2.5.4
      • Commission appointments 2.5.5
      • Promoting Oakland 2.5.6
      • Criticism and recall efforts 2.5.7
  • Partisan affiliations 3
  • Autobiography 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early years and family life

A statue of Dellums' uncle, labor organizer C. L. Dellums at the Oakland Amtrak station.

Dellums was born in Oakland, California, to Verney and Willa (née Terry) Dellums. His father was a Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. He has a younger sister Theresa. His mother Willa died on August 17, 2008, at the age of 89.[4]

Dellums attended Oakland Technical High School and McClymonds High School.[5] He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1954 to 1956. Dellums later received his A.A. degree from the Oakland City College in 1958, his B.A. from San Francisco State University in 1960, and his M.S.W. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1962.[6] He became a psychiatric social worker and political activist in the African American community beginning in the 1960s.[6] He also taught at the San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley.[7]

Dellums is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.[8] He is a member of the fraternity's World Policy Council, a think tank whose purpose is to expand the fraternity's involvement in politics, and social and current policy to encompass international concerns.[9]

Dellums has been married three times. He married his second wife, attorney Leola "Roscoe" Higgs, in 1961. The two divorced in 1998.[10] He married his third wife, Cynthia Lewis, in 2000.

Dellums has eight children and stepchildren. One son, Michael, was convicted of a drug-related homicide in 1979, and remains in prison, being repeatedly denied parole due to bad behaviour.[11] Dellums has four other children: professional actor Erik, Piper, Brandon and Pam; five grandchildren: Danielle Henderson, Jacob Holmes, Sydney Ross, Dylan Ross, and Olivia Dellums; and two great-grandchildren: Jared Henderson and Charli Henderson.

Political career

Dellums has been in politics for over forty years. He has held positions on the Berkeley City Council, in the US House of Representatives, and was the mayor of Oakland from 2007 to 2011.

Berkeley City Council

Dellums was elected to the Berkeley City Council, after prompting from Maudelle Shirek,[12] and served from 1967 to 1970.[13]

U.S. Congress

He was elected to the

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jeffery Cohelan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
George Miller
Preceded by
Pete Stark
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Nancy Pelosi
Preceded by
Pete Stark
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 9th congressional district

Succeeded by
Barbara Lee
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Diggs
Chairman of the House District of Columbia Committee
Succeeded by
Pete Stark
Preceded by
Les Aspin
Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee
Succeeded by
Floyd Spence
South Carolina
Preceded by
Jerry Brown
Mayor of Oakland, California
Succeeded by
Jean Quan
  • Profile at
  • Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Dellums victory signifies a sea change in Oakland politics San Francisco Chronicle, June 19, 2006.
  • Ron Dellums's oral history video excerpts at The National Visionary Leadership Project.

External links

  1. ^ "Ronald V. Dellums, Representative from California". Black Americans in Congress.  
  2. ^ Maurice Isserman. "A Brief History of the American Left". Democratic Socialists of America. 
  3. ^ a b Lynn Norment (August 1994). "How African-Americans helped free South Africa". Nelson Mandela and the New South Africa (Ebony). 
  4. ^ Christopher Heredia "Willa Dellums - mother of Oakland mayor - dies", San Francisco Gate, 20 August 2008
  5. ^ "Mayor-elect Ron Dellums: Oakland ‘can be a great city’". People's Weekly World. June 24, 2006. 
  6. ^ a b Jim Herron Zamora; Janine DeFao (October 8, 2005). "Dellums enters Oakland mayor race as favorite". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  7. ^ "Ron Dellums, an Active Presence from California". The African American Registry. 
  8. ^ "Alpha chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha". Archived from the original on 2006-09-15. Retrieved 2006-10-24. 
  9. ^ "Alpha Phi Alpha's World Policy Council". Archived from the original on 2006-10-10. Retrieved 2006-10-24. 
  10. ^ a b Democratic Socialists of America
  11. ^ Johnson, Chip (November 4, 2005). "Candidates both have problem son". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  12. ^ Burress, Charles (2000-11-17). "The Idealist's Idealist - Maudelle Shirek". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  13. ^ a b "Dellums, Ronald Vernie". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. 
  14. ^ "Jeffrey Cohelan Collection". The Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. 
  15. ^ "CA District 07 (1972)". Retrieved September 19, 2013. 
  16. ^ "List of White House 'Enemies' and Memo Submitted by Dean to the Ervin Committee". Watergate and the White House, vol. 1 (Facts on File). pp. 96–97. Archived from the original on June 21, 2003. 
  17. ^ a b Megan Rosenfeld (February 7, 1998). "A 21-Gun Send-Off". The Washington Post. p. A06. 
  18. ^ That's Vietnam, Jake, by Michael Uhl, The Nation, November 29, 2001
  19. ^ "Vietnam War Crimes Hearings". 
  20. ^ The Color of Friendship Summary, Cast & Crew -
  21. ^  
  22. ^ Jeffrey M. Elliot and Mervyn M. Dymally, Voices of Zaire: Rhetoric or Reality, p. 16.
  23. ^ a b c d e Will Harper (April 3, 2002). "The Radical Insider". East Bay Express. 
  24. ^ "B-2 Spirit". Federation of American Scientists. November 30, 1999. 
  25. ^ "The B-2 Bomber". 
  26. ^ Debate on Dellums Amendment to 1998 Defense Authorization Act June 23, 1997.
  27. ^ MIDEAST TENSIONS; 45 in House Sue to Bar Bush From Acting Alone By MARTIN TOLCHIN, Special to The New York Times Published: Wednesday, November 21, 1990
  28. ^ "H.R. 2401: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994.". 
  29. ^ "H. R. 2401" (PDF). pp. 230–238. 
  30. ^ Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress)
  31. ^
  32. ^ "November 1996 General Election: California 9th Congressional District".  
  33. ^
  34. ^ Nancy Pelosi (February 3, 1998). "Tribute to Congressman Ron Dellums". 
  35. ^ Jane Harman (February 3, 1998). "Tribute to the Honorable Ronald V. Dellums". 
  36. ^ Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress)
  37. ^ Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress)
  38. ^ Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress)
  39. ^ "de beste bron van informatie over g senet. Deze website is te koop!". Archived from the original on March 15, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  40. ^ St. Petersburg Times Staff (March 16, 1983). "Panel investigating reports that lawmaker bought drugs".  
  41. ^ Henry, Charles P. "Major Problems for Minor Parties." The Crisis 97.1 (Jan 1990): 25-26, 39.
  42. ^ Lusane, Clarence. African-Americans at the Crossroads: The Restructuring of Black Leadership and the 1992 Elections. Boston: South End Press, 1994. 47.
  43. ^ a b Walton, Hanes, Jr. & Lester Spence. "African-American Presidential Convention and Nomination Politics: Alan Keyes in the 1996 Republican Presidential Primaries and Conventions." In Race and Ethnicity in Comparative Perspective. Edited by Georgia A. Persons. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1999. 205.
  44. ^ Glasrud, Bruce A. & Cary D. Wintz, eds. African Americans and the Presidency: The Road to the White House. New York: Routledge, 2010. 27.
  45. ^ Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross (March 27, 2006). "In Oakland, Dellums draws fire in mayor's race". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  46. ^ Democracy Now! | Haiti's Lawyer: U.S. Is Arming Anti-Aristide Paramilitaries
  47. ^ Jim Herron Zamora (March 10, 2006). "Dellums to leave occupation line blank on ballot". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  48. ^ Heather MacDonald, "Ex-rep. thrills backers by entering Oakland mayoral race" Oakland Tribune, October 8, 2005.
  49. ^ Christopher Heredia, Janine DeFao (June 18, 2006). "De La Fuente offers support to Dellums as mayoral winner". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  50. ^ MacDonald, Heather (2007-02-27). "Dellums Makes 4 Additions to His Staff". Oakland Tribune. 
  51. ^ Jean Quan. "Mayor ~ City of Oakland, California". Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  52. ^ Mayfield, Kimberly (January 4, 2007) "Grassroots Democracy Sprouts in Oakland" San Francisco Chronicle
  53. ^ Chris Heredia (January 15, 2008). "Dellums calls for hiring more cops in Oakland". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 13, 2008. 
  54. ^ Kelly Rayburn (21 November 2008). "No money to train police recruits, Dellums says". Oakland Tribune. Retrieved 13 December 2008. 
  55. ^ J. Douglas Allen-Taylor (29 May 2008). "Undercurrents: More Thoughts on Staffing of Oakland Police Department". Berkeley Daily Planet. 
  56. ^ Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross (March 29, 2009), Mayor Dellums persona non grata by Oakland police, San Francisco Chronicle 
  57. ^ Thousands Attend Funeral For 4 Oakland Officers AP, March 28, 2009.
  58. ^ V. Smoothe, Oakland Crime Stats November 2009. A Better Oakland.
  59. ^ "New Teacher Resources". Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  60. ^
  61. ^ Callahan, Lauren (2009-12-10). "Mayor and staff bask in the glow of the stimulus – Oakland North : North Oakland News, Food, Art and Events". Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  62. ^ Gammon, Robert (April 25, 2007). "Oak to Ninth Yin-Yang". East Bay Express. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  63. ^ [2]
  64. ^ Johnson, Chip (November 2, 2007). "Dellums, Oakland City Council fritter away the year". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-11-18. 
  65. ^ Johnson, Chip (June 18, 2010). "Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums silent on budget hole". SFGate. Retrieved 2010-06-18. 
  66. ^ East Bay Express | News | Dellums' Scarlet Letter
  67. ^ Lee, Henry K. (November 4, 2009). "Update: Maldonado family pays tax lien". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  68. ^ Gammon, Robert. "A Misdirected Missive". East Bay Express. Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  69. ^ Ron Dellums Attends Town Hall Meeting 9/18/07
  70. ^ Kuruvila, Matthai (August 5, 2010). "Oakland Mayor Dellums won't run for re-election". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  71. ^ California election results online
  72. ^ - Media Release
  73. ^ Reginald James (October 4, 2007). "Hillary Visits Laney".  
  74. ^ Lying Down with the Lions, Ronald V. Dellums and H. Lee Halterman. Boston: Beacon Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8070-4318-4


See also

In 2000, Dellums published an autobiography, cowritten with H. Lee Halterman, entitled Lying Down with the Lions: A Public Life from the Streets of Oakland to the Halls of Power.[74]


On October 1, 2007, Dellums endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary at a press conference held at Laney College in Oakland. He was named national chair of Clinton's Urban Policy Committee.[72][73]

While running for mayor of Oakland, Dellums was officially registered as a member of the Democratic party.[13][71] All city offices in Oakland are officially non-partisan.

Though he ran as a Socialist Party of America. He later became vice-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA),[10] which was formed by a merger between the DSOC and the New American Movement, and which works within and outside the Democratic Party. As of 2006, Dellums is no longer a vice-chair of the DSA.

Partisan affiliations

Dellums later announced he would not seek a second term as mayor of Oakland in the 2010 election.[70] He was succeeded by Jean Quan.

In 2007, Oakland reporter Elise Ackerman launched an unsuccessful campaign to recall Dellums and released an open letter addressed to Dellums.[68] When addressing a town hall-style meeting in 2007, Dellums declared, "I'm giving it everything that I have. If that's not enough, that's cool. Recall me and let me get on with my private life."[69]

After his election as mayor of Oakland, Dellums came under criticism for a wide range of issues, including a lack of transparency in government,[62][63] ineffectual governance,[64] and alleged extended absence from his duties at City Hall.[65] He was criticized for refusing to disavow a staff-generated letter sent in his name in July 2007 to a Federal Bankruptcy Court in support of the Your Black Muslim Bakery, whose owners were suspects in the 2007 murder of reporter Chauncey Bailey.[66] In 2009, Dellums and his wife were cited with failure to pay over $239,000 in federal income taxes.[67]

Criticism and recall efforts

Since 2008, Dellums has campaigned to bring millions in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act federal stimulus funding to Oakland, using both his extensive Washington contacts and the idea of the Model City. By the end of 2009, his efforts had yielded US$65 million in stimulus funding for Oakland, including the largest police grant of any city in the country, and the second largest amount in competitive funding after Chicago.[61]

As Mayor, Dellums proposed the idea of Oakland as a "Model City." He argued that Oakland is "big enough to be significant and small enough to get your arms around," and that the federal government needs a city like Oakland on which to try out new urban policy inventions.

Promoting Oakland

In September 2008, members of the Oakland City Council blocked Mayor Ron Dellums' appointment of Ada Chan to the Oakland Planning Commission in a 3-4-1 vote. Chan has a history of land-use activism in San Francisco. In January 2008, newly elected at-large City Coucilmember Rebecca Kaplan appointed Chan as her office's Policy Aide.

The resident task forces requested that the Mayor appoint a resident of the "frontline" communities which are most health-impacted by truck and shipping emissions of the Port of Oakland. His first appointment to the Port Commission was Margaret Gordon, a well-known community activist credited with playing a major role in altering public policy on air quality.

Commission appointments

In 2009 Dellums launched an anti-drop-out initiative which included sponsoring back to school rallies at City Hall and participating with the school district in truancy reduction efforts. He accepted an invitation from the national organization, America's Promise, to join their efforts at drop-out prevention. As part of this effort, he started Oakland's Promise, recruited several dozen community-based organizations to participate, held a Summit with 350 participants, and adopted an Action Plan to cut Oakland's drop-out rate in half.[60]

Noting that reducing teacher turn-over and improving the engagement of teachers with the families of their students would require increasing the number of teachers who came from the local community, Dellums initiated a program to create more teachers who were diverse local residents. He held teacher recruitment summits in City Hall, helped the Teach Tomorrow in Oakland program to obtain $2.7 million in federal funding, and spoke to the U.S. Conference of Mayors about the national potential of such programs.[59] The Community Task Forces remained active in these efforts.

Education Initiatives

In 2009 Dellums hired the highly regarded Anthony Batts, formerly the Long Beach police chief. Batts had a record of reducing both crime and officer-involved shootings in that Southern California city.

In his State of the City address in 2008 Dellums promised to reduce the crime rate by 10% during 2009; the crime rate actually went down by 13%.[58]

On Saturday, March 21, 2009, during the 2009 Oakland police shootings incident, the Oakland Police Department lost three sergeants and one officer. One of the officers left instructions in his emergency packet that if he were killed in the line of duty that Dellums not be permitted to speak at his funeral. Two of the officers' families requested the same, and when Dellums attended the March 28 public memorial service at the Oracle Arena he honored the requests.[56][57]

Other plans to reduce violence include training at-risk youth and ex-offenders for jobs, and intensifying police efforts to get weapons off the streets by cracking down on illegal gun dealers and establishing a city program to buy back guns.

Dellums called on the City Council and Police Chief Wayne Tucker to increase the number of recruits in the city's police academy, to establish incentives to keep older officers on the force beyond retirement — some of them to train new recruits — and to better prepare Oakland residents and others interested in law enforcement for jobs with the city's Police Department.

Dellums instituted a new community policing program under which Oakland has been divided into three geographic areas — central, east and north-west, the officers in these three areas overseen by three police captains who are purported to be held accountable for getting to know residents and neighborhood issues and reducing crime in his or her district. Dellums' staff successfully negotiated a police officers contract which allowed the police chief to set officers' hours which resulted in a larger number of police on the streets during the hours of greatest crime.

Dellums's administration negotiated the passage of a new police contract which was especially noteworthy, as it broke the Oakland Police Officers Association’s opposition to the civilianization of certain OPD positions which were previously staffed by "sworn," uniformed police officers, with concomitant payrolls and police academy training costs. OPD then hired "non-sworn" personnel to work some of its desk jobs and administrative jobs, freeing up academy uniformed officers for street patrol and investigative work.[55]

In addition, to follow through on his calls for hiring more officers, Dellums offered Measure NN on the November 2008 ballot, a voter initiative parcel tax to hire 70 additional police officers at a hiring and training cost of $250,000 each. Though 55 percent of Oakland voters supported Measure NN, this failed to meet California's "two thirds" constitutional requirement for the enactment of a new tax.

Crime rates were high when Dellums took office in January 2007 and at his first State of the City Address in January 2008, Dellums called for hiring more police officers. Dellums promised that by year's end, the police department would be fully staffed at 803 officers.[53] On November 14, 2008, 38 Oakland police officers were added to the force after graduating the 165th academy, bringing the department's force to 837 officers, the most in OPD history.[54]

Public safety initiatives

Mayor-Elect Dellums' transition to office involved 800 Oaklanders who joined 41 task forces to make recommendations on issues ranging from public safety to education and affordable housing.[50] Many of these recommendations helped to shape the policy agenda of the Dellums administration. The task forces recommended a land use policy which would emphasize zoning for job-creating business. This policy was adopted in 2007, and the city is being zoned. The task forces recommended a stronger policy on the hiring of local residents, and the City Council appointed a group to pursue this change. The task forces recommended a focus on the green economy, and the Mayor, along with a variety of community organizations created the Green Jobs Corps, an office of sustainability and the East Bay Green Corridor. The Mayor reports that approximately two-thirds of the recommendations had been implemented as of the end of 2009.[51] The Task Forces and the Inauguration itself, which included hundreds of the city's least affluent residents, were considered examples of grassroots democracy.[52]

Transition and citizen task forces

On June 16, 2006, after a careful ballot count, and a dispute over whether votes for unqualified write-in candidates such as Homer Simpson counted towards the total, Dellums was unofficially declared the winner in the Oakland mayoral race. Dellums garnered a 50.18 percent majority to win the election. This was 155 votes more than needed to avoid a runoff. Dellums received 41,992 votes, while his nearest challengers received 27,607 votes, and 10,928 votes respectively.[49]

In October 2005, reportedly after weeks of deliberation and speculation, Dellums announced that he would run for mayor of Oakland. The incumbent mayor, former California Attorney General and current California Governor Jerry Brown, was prohibited by term limits from running again.

After Oakland Council President Ignacio De La Fuente and District 3 City Councilmember Nancy Nadel declared their mayoral candidacies, Dellums was recruited to run for Mayor of Oakland. An informal committee, "Draft Dellums," collected 8,000 signatures and presented them to the former Congressman at a public meeting at Laney College. Crowds of Oaklanders chanted "Run, Ron, Run".[48]

2006 Oakland mayoral election

Mayor of Oakland

A former East Bay Express columnist once wrote a column titled "Dellums for Dollars" criticizing Dellums' lobbying.[23] Speaking in defense of Dellums, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson said that, if asked, Dellums would likely say "just because I'm advocating for a company that may be paying me consulting fees, I'm not selling out my beliefs."[23]

When running for mayor of Oakland, Dellums listed his most recent profession as "retired Congressman" in election filing forms.[47] When assistant City Clerk Marjo Keller informed the Dellums campaign that this description was unacceptable, the campaign elected to leave the occupation field blank.

Dellums lobbied for the Haitian government in 2001–2002[45] and has worked to support Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically elected, former President of Haiti who was deposed in a 2004 coup.[46]

Dellums worked in Washington, D.C., as a lobbyist for clients such as the East Bay Peralta Community College District and AC Transit, the public transit district charged with offering mass transit throughout the East Bay. Dellums' firm lobbied for Rolls Royce, a company that manufactures aircraft engines. He has also worked on behalf of the San Francisco International Airport during its attempts to build additional runway capacity, which has been vigorously opposed by environmental groups. His company has been engaged in community relations work for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory which generates and handles radioactive waste, and has long had a contentious relationship with its residential neighbors and the Berkeley city council. In addition he has lobbied for Bristol-Myers Squibb, a multinational pharmaceutical corporation.

Dellums has worked as a legislative lobbyist, which has drawn criticism described in the East Bay Express, a local newspaper.[23] Shortly after leaving office, Dellums began consulting for an international health-care company, Healthcare Management International which invests in health insurance programs in developing countries.


Four years later, he was again nominated as the presidential candidate, this time for the Independent Freedom Party, but refused the nomination because the IFP had not yet created an effective political structure.[44] In that year’s Democratic National Convention, Dellums received three delegate votes for the Presidential nomination.[43]

In 1976, Dellums was nominated for president by the National Black Political Assembly but refused, stating "It is not my moment; it’s not my time."[41][42] That year, he received 20 delegate votes at the Democratic National Convention for the Vice-Presidency.[43]

Presidential nominations

An eight-month investigation vindicated Dellums of allegations that he had used cocaine and marijuana, finding there was no basis for the allegations. The investigation of Dellums and two other congressmen, Texas Democrat Charlie Wilson and California Republican Barry Goldwater, Jr., began in 1983, based on a complaint from a House doorkeeper,[17] who pled guilty to drug charges on Capitol Hill himself in March 1983.[40]

Dismissal of drug use allegations

Dellums' voting records in Congress were "almost without exception straight As" from groups such as the AFL-CIO.[23] He received 100% on consumer group Public Citizen's scorecard.[39] In contrast, he received an 'F' from NumbersUSA, a group dedicated to limiting immigration.

Voting record

We are losing one of its finest Members, a Member that I have great respect for, because he always did his homework, was so articulate and eloquent on this floor. He always got my attention when he stood up and took the microphone. He would stop every Member in their tracks to hear what he had to say, and there are very few Members that have served in this body that can claim the respect that both sides of the aisle had for the gentleman from California. And the incredible reputation that the gentleman from California has brought to this House; he has elevated this House. He has elevated the distinction of this House by serving here, and this House will greatly miss him when he leaves.[38]

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay described Dellums as " of the most giving, open and stalwart, a real stalwart man when he was Chairman"

A creative, piercing, probing, incisive, thought-provoking, inspiring, charismatic, careful, considerate and deliberative mind. The mind to stand up when others sit down. The mind to act when others refuse to act. The mind to stand even when you stand alone, battered, bruised and scorned, but still standing. Standing on principle, standing tall and standing for the people.[37]

Congressman Danny Davis of Illinois described Dellums:

Congressman Ron Dellums is revered on both sides of this aisle because of his integrity and his commitment to progressive ideas. He was always on the cutting edge of the issues. California will miss him in the ninth district, but the State has been enriched by Ron Dellums. While he towers above most of us physically, this attribute is matched by his intellect, faith in the process and optimism for peaceful resolution of conflict.[36]

Upon his resignation, several members of Congress, including Nancy Pelosi,[34] Jane Harman,[35] William Coyne, Nick Rahall, Ike Skelton, Juanita Millender-McDonald and Tom DeLay gave speeches on the floor of the House in honor of Dellums. Millender-McDonald described Dellums as a "distinguished, principled [and] educated man." Her tribute went on:

Congressional tribute

Dellums' successor, Barbara Lee, won the 2000 election by an even larger, 85%-9% margin.[33]

In 1997, Dellums announced that he was retiring from Congress in the middle of his term and a special election was called — which created a series of five special elections in 12 months as various East Bay politicians ran for different political office. For more detailed information, see Special election musical chairs.

Dellums easily won his next eleven elections in the traditionally Democratic 9th District. In his last House election race, in 1996, Dellums bested his opponent, Republican Deborah Wright, by a 77%-18% margin.[32]

Dellums' last Congressional election

Dellums co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971.[31]

Dellums also served on the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Post Office and Civil Service Committee, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Select Committee to Investigate the Intelligence Community.[30]

Dellums served as chairman of the House Committee on the District of Columbia and the House Armed Services Committee.

U.S. House Committee positions

In 1993, Dellums was Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Though he argued in favor of integration, Dellums was the sole sponsor of H.R. 2401, introduced on 14 June 1993,[28] adding language to the Defense Authorization Act of 1994 to ensure continued support for unit cohesion in the military. Although the bill contained that language, Dellums pointed out that he personally found the language unacceptable, stating in the Congressional Record on August 4, 1993, 'The bill also contains at least one policy that, while unacceptable to this Member in substantive terms, is not as retrograde as it might have been: It supports the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the issue of allowing gay and lesbian service members to serve their country.' Remaining in the bill was Title V Section G "[e]xpresses as congressional policy the prohibition against homosexual conduct or activity in the armed forces. Requires separation from the armed forces for such conduct or activity. Directs the Secretary to ensure that the standards for military appointments and enlistments reflect such policy."[29] Dellums' "yes" vote on the bill with the unit cohesion support language was the first time in his 22-year congressional tenure that he voted in favor of any defense spending bill, previously opposing them on economic principles. However, Dellums gives several economic reasons in the Congressional Record for his 'yes' vote, on H.R. 2401, including that 'It cuts ballistic missile defense to $3 billion—less than one-half the level planned by the Bush administration . . .' And, 'it devotes a record $11.2 billion to environmental cleanup and improvement, and does so in a way that will stimulate the development of new technologies and new markets for American firms;'

Integration of gays and lesbians in the military

In 1990, Dellums and forty-four [27] of his congressional colleagues sued then-president D.C. Federal District Court in 1990, in the case Dellums v. Bush, 752 F. Supp. 1141 (1990) attempting to halt a preemptive military buildup in the Middle East in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The plaintiff members of Congress asserted that military action without a declaration of war would be unlawful under U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 11 of the United States Constitution. Dellums is notable in that it is one of only a few cases in which the Federal Courts have considered whether the War Powers Clause of the U.S. Constitution is justiciable in the courts. The Court in Dellums indicated that, in that instance, it was, but because Congress had not yet acted as a majority, the lawsuit was premature.

"Dellums v. Bush" (1990)

Although Dellums opposed the B-2 project from the start, Congress approved initial funding for production of 135 bombers in 1987. However, with the winding down of the Cold War, total B-2 production was reduced to 21 aircraft in the early 1990s. But in 1997, seven former Secretaries of Defense signed a letter urging Congress to buy more B-2s, citing the difficulty of assembling a similar engineering team in the future should the B-2 project be terminated.[25] Dellums, citing five independent studies consistent with his position, offered an amendment to that year's defense authorization bill to cap production of the bombers with the existing 21 aircraft. The amendment was narrowly defeated;[26] nonetheless, Congress never approved funding for additional B-2 bombers.

The B-2 Stealth Bomber is a long-range strategic bomber, that features stealth technology that makes it far less visible to radar. The B-2 was a major technological advance; however, it was designed during the Cold War for military scenarios that some argued were less relevant following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Its total program cost was estimated in 1997 at over US$2.2 billion per airplane.[24]

Opposition to the B-2 Stealth Bomber

The rail project was eventually canceled and the missiles were placed in hardened silos, as with previous missiles such as the Minuteman III. The last Peacekeeper was decommissioned in 2005 as part of the START II treaty.

Dellums argued that constructing the Peacekeeper would only propel the ongoing arms race and cause the Soviet Union to construct more weapons. He also argued that the issue of survivability of existing missiles was a red herring; the Soviet Union could not expect a first strike to go unpunished — U.S. nuclear-equipped submarines, bombers and cruise missiles would inflict devastating damage even if all American ICBMs were disabled. As part of the campaign, Dellums met with the LDS Church in Utah.

The Peacekeeper missile was a "third-generation" inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM). One of its advantages over earlier missiles was its greater survivability. One early aspect of the design was for fifty missiles to be placed on trains that would be shuttled between numerous hiding sheds around a railroad loop located in remote Utah. Another advantage was that the Peacekeeper had a greater MIRV capacity than the Minuteman III — each missile had up to ten nuclear warheads, compared with the three aboard the Minuteman III.

Opposition to the MX (Peacekeeper) missile

Throughout his career Dellums led campaigns against an array of military projects, arguing that the funds would be better spent on peaceful purposes, especially in American cities. Programs he opposed included the Pershing II and MX missiles, and the B-2 bomber (popularly known as the "stealth bomber"). Because of his commitment to the closing of unneeded military bases, Dellums did not oppose the closing of the former Naval Air Station Alameda in his own district.[23]

Military budgets and arms control

As part of the Cold War struggle for influence in southern Africa, the United States joined with the apartheid government of South Africa in support of UNITA, led by Jonas Savimbi, against the ultimately victorious Angolan forces of the MPLA supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba. Dellums was criticized for his support of Fidel Castro's involvement with the MPLA in Angola and was called "the prototype of the Castroite congressman" by the conservative press.[21] He also introduced legislation (which was unsuccessful) in September 1987 to prohibit economic and military assistance to Zaire, citing poor human rights, corruption, and collaboration with South Africa.[22]

Cold War conflicts in southern Africa

Dellums' fight against apartheid in South Africa was the subject of a Disney Channel made-for-TV film, The Color of Friendship, released in 2000. The role of Congressman Dellums was played in the film by actor Carl Lumbly.[20]

In 1972, Dellums began his campaign to end the apartheid policies of South Africa. Fourteen years later, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Dellums' anti-apartheid legislation, calling for a trade restriction against South Africa and immediate divestment by American corporations. The bill, the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, had broad bipartisan support. It called for sanctions against South Africa and stated preconditions for lifting the sanctions, including the release of all political prisoners. President Reagan called for a policy of "constructive engagement" and vetoed the bill; however, his veto was overridden. It was the first override in the 20th century of a presidential foreign policy veto.[3]

Anti-apartheid campaign

The My Lai massacre was followed shortly thereafter by a series of hearings on war crimes in Vietnam, which began April 25, 1971. Dellums had called for formal investigations into the allegations, but Congress chose not to endorse the proceedings. As such, the hearings were ad hoc and only informational in nature. As a condition of room use, press and camera presence were not permitted; however, the proceedings were transcribed.[19] A small number of other anti-Vietnam War congressional representatives also took part in the hearings.

In January, 1971, just weeks into his first term, Dellums set up an exhibit of Vietnam war crimes in an annex to his Congressional office, coordinated with the Citizens Commission of Inquiry (CCI).[18] The exhibit featured four large posters depicting atrocities committed by American soldiers, embellished with red paint.

Vietnam war crimes hearings

His politics earned him a place on the so-called Nixon's Enemies List, where his notation stated Dellums "had extensive EMK-Tunney support in his election bid."[16][17]

In 1972, Dellums was reelected to Congress, 60 to 38 percent over his Republican opponent, Peter D. Hannaford, an advisor to then Governor Ronald Reagan.[15]


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