Yvonne Braithwaite Burke Will Receive Association’s Highest Award
Although Supervisor Burke has served the Second Supervisorial District since 1992, she will be remembered in history as a dedicated public servant who amassed numerous firsts and awards in addition to inspiring women and minorities to pursue interests in public service.
She became the first African American woman admitted to the University of Southern California School of Law since 1928 and received her J.D. in 1956 before entering private practice at a time when it was difficult for women, particularly African Americans, to practice law. Many private firms showed no interest in hiring women, so she opened her own law office at 23rd Street and Western Avenue, specializing in civil rights and laws regarding housing, immigration, eminent domain, and the licensing of board and care homes.
She remained active in the civil rights movement with memberships to various local and national organizations, subsequently landing a staff attorney position on the McCone Commission, which investigated the causes of the 1965 Watts Riots. She became a spokesperson for the underrepresented and through a grassroots campaign won her first political office in the California State Assembly in 1966, a position she held for the next six years.
In 1972, she became the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress, representing California’s 37th District until 1978. In 1984, she became vice chair of the U.S. Olympic Organizing Committee before becoming the first African American elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 1992. Representing nearly 2.5 million residents in the nation’s largest county, her efforts have focused on improving the lives of children, encouraging economic development, and improving transportation throughout Los Angeles. Additional areas of responsibility have included the Department of Affirmative Action Compliance, Community Development Commission, Department of Human Resources, Museum of Natural History, Department of Parks and Recreation, the County Public Library, and the Department of Public Social Services. She also has taken the lead in moving to establish a County Archives system.
During her career, she was selected one of America's 200 Future Leaders by Time magazine, Woman of the Year by the Los Angeles Times, and, in 1996, UCLA Alumni of the Year.
Dinner information. The June 26 dinner takes place at the Biltmore Hotel, 506 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, with a reception beginning at 5:00 p.m., followed by the dinner and program at 6:30 p.m. Prices are $125/person ($80/judges) and $1,250/table of 10. (For tax purposes, the value of the dinner is $75. The portion of the contribution above this amount for each individual ticket purchased is tax-deductible.)