In recognition of the importance of Black History Month and the impact of African-American communities on our nation’s history and culture, OMLO is proud to highlight the significant contributions and achievements of African-American legislators in California.
From 1918, when Hon. Frederick M. Roberts became the first African-American legislator elected to the California State Assembly, through today, African-American members of the legislature have played a key role in creating legislation that supports equality, education, public health, economic stability, and justice in California. Below are just some of the influential California legislators who have made an indelible mark on our state. Many more can be discovered through prominent organizations like the California Legislative Black Caucus.
Hon. Frederick M. Roberts was the first African-American elected to the California State Assembly. He served for 16 years, from 1918-1934. Notably, he sponsored California’s early civil rights legislation and authored a bill to establish UCLA.
Hon. W. Byron Rumford served in the California State Assembly from 1948-1966. He passed the Fair Employment Practices Act of 1959, outlawing discrimination in employment, which led to the eventual creation of the Fair Employment Practices Commission. He also authored the Rumford Fair Housing Act signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Sr. in 1963, outlawing discrimination in housing. The California Supreme Court upheld the Act when it was ruled that Proposition 14 was unconstitutional.
Hon. F. Douglas Ferrell served in the California State Assembly from 1963-1966. Ferrell was a zealous advocate for civil rights and equality. He fought for school integration in the Los Angeles Unified School District in the early 1960s.
Hon. Maxine Waters, one of the most notable African-American figures in political history, was elected to the California State Assembly in 1976 and served for seven terms until she was elected to Congress in 1990. Over the course of her forty-year career, she has championed civil rights, justice and equal rights and opportunities for women.
Hon. Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D., was the Assemblymember for California’s 79th District from 2012 to 2021 and Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus from 2018 to 2020. Dr. Weber is a celebrated educator who helped found the Department of Africana Studies at San Diego State University and served as school board member and chair of San Diego Unified School District Board of Trustees for eight years. She is currently California’s Secretary of State.
As a certified minority-owned law firm with a long-standing history of serving local municipalities as well as volunteerism and outreach in our communities, OMLO commemorates the historic achievements of these legislators and celebrates the impact that their work will have on generations to come.