American politician Augustus F. Hawkins dies at 100

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Augustus Freeman Hawkins, a prominent U.S. figure in Civil Rights and Organized Labor history, has died at the age of 100, just three days ago, on November 10.

Born on August 31, 1907, Shreveport, Louisiana, he served as the first African American from California in the United States Congress, where he sponsored the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act.

Hawkins was a Democratic member of the State Assembly in 1935 to 1963; he was also a delegate to the National Conventions of 1940, 1944 and 1960 and a California Presidential Elector in the 1944 Election. Hawkins attended high school in Los Angeles, and received his undergraduate degree from the UCLA in 1931.

During 1963 to 1991, he represented California's 21st District (1963-75), and 29th District (1975-1991), in Congress. Early in his congressional career, he authored including the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act establishing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Job Training Partnership Act, and the School Improvement Act. He was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. As chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, he sponsored the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act, alongside Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota. The Bill gave the U.S. government the goal to provide full employment; it also ordered that the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board must give a Congressional testimony on the economy.

Over his career, Hawkins authored more than 300 state and federal laws. He also succeeded in restoring honorable discharges to the 170 black soldiers of the 25th Infantry Regiment who had been falsely accused of a public disturbance in Brownsville, Texas, in 1906, and removed from the Army.

Hawkins retired in 1991 to his Los Angeles home, and lived in Washington, D.C. for the remainder of his life.


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