Ron Dellums

name= Ron Dellums

office=Mayor of Oakland
predecessor=Jerry Brown
district2=7th, 8th and 9th
term_start2 = January 3, 1971
term_end2 = February 6, 1998
preceded2=Jeffery Cohelan
succeeded2=Barbara Lee
date of birth=birth date and age|1935|11|24
place of birth=Oakland, California
date of death=
place of death=
spouse=Leola "Roscoe" Higgs Cynthia Lewis
children=Erik, Piper, Brandy, Pam and Michael


Ronald Vernie "Ron" Dellums (born November 24, 1935) is the current Mayor of Oakland, California. Dellums was elected as Oakland's third African-American Mayor in 2006. From 1971-1998, he was a Member of the United States House of Representatives. Dellums was born and elected in what is now Northern California's Progressive 9th Congressional District, which currently has a Cook PVI of D +38. [cite web | title = Will Gerrymandered Districts Stem the Wave of Voter Unrest? | publisher = Campaign Legal Center Blog | url= | accessdate = 2007-10-19]

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 Congressman since World War II.cite news
title=A Brief History of the American Left
author=Maurice Isserman
publisher=Democratic Socialists of America
] His politics earned him a place on President Nixon's enemies list. During his career in Congress, he fought the failed MX Missile project and opposed expansion of the US$2.1 billion per plane 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 Regan's veto, the first override of a presidential foreign policy veto in the 20th century.cite news
title=How African-Americans helped free South Africa
work=Nelson Mandela and the New South Africa
date=August, 1994
author=Lynn Norment

Early years and family life

Dellums was born in Oakland. His father, Verney Dellums, was a longshoreman. His uncle, C.L. Dellums, was one of the organizers and leaders of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

He attended Oakland Technical High School and McClymonds High School.cite news
title=Mayor-elect Ron Dellums: Oakland ‘can be a great city’
date=June 24, 2006
publisher=People's Weekly World

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 the San Francisco State University in 1960, and his M.S.W. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1962.cite news
title=Dellums enters Oakland mayor race as favorite
author=Jim Herron Zamora
coauthors=Janine DeFao
publisher=San Francisco Chronicle
date=October 8, 2005
] He became a psychiatric social worker and political activist in the African American community beginning in the 1960s. He also taught at the San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley.cite news
publisher=The African American Registry
title=Ron Dellums, an Active Presensce from California

Dellums is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans.cite web
title=Alpha chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha
] 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.cite web
title=Alpha Phi Alpha's World Policy Council

Dellums has been married three times. He married his second wife, attorney Leola "Roscoe" Higgs, in 1961. The two divorced in 1998. He married his third wife, Cynthia Lewis, in 2000. His son, Michael, was convicted of a drug-related homocide in 1979, and remains in prison, being repeatedly denied parole due to bad behaviour [] .

Dellums has 2 great-grandchildren Jared Henderson, Charli Henderson, five grandchildren and four children: Danielle Henderson, Jacob Holmes Sydney Ross, Dylan Ross, Olivia Dellums, professional actor Erik, Piper, Brandy and Pam.

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 is the mayor of Oakland, for the term beginning January 1, 2007.

Berkeley City Council

Dellums was elected to the Berkeley City Council, after prompting from Maudelle Shirek, [cite news
last = Burress
first = Charles
coauthors =
title = The Idealist's Idealist - Maudelle Shirek
work =
pages =
publisher = San Francisco Chronicle
date = 2000-11-17
url =
accessdate =
] and served from 1967 to 1970.cite news |publisher=Biographical Directory of the United States Congress |title=Dellums, Ronald Vernie |url=]

U.S. Congress

He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1970 after being recruited by anti-Vietnam War activists to run against the incumbent, Jeffery Cohelan, a white liberal close to organized labor who had not opposed the war early enough to win reelection in the district. Dellums defeated Cohelan in the Democratic primary and won the general election, serving without interruption for 27 years.cite news
publisher=The Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center
title=Jeffrey Cohelan Collection

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."cite news
title=List of White House 'Enemies' and Memo Submitted by Dean to the Ervin Committee
work=Watergate and the White House, vol. 1
pages=pages 96–97
publisher=Facts on File
] cite news
publisher=The Washington Post
title=A 21-Gun Send-Off
author=Megan Rosenfeld
date=February 7, 1998

Vietnam war crimes 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. The exhibit featured four large posters depicting atrocities allegedly committed by American soldiers, embellished with red paint. This was followed shortly thereafter by a series of hearings on alleged 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. [cite web |title=Vietnam War Crimes Hearings |url=] A small number of other anti-Vietnam War congressional representatives also took part in the hearings.

Anti-apartheid campaign

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's anti-apartheid legislation, calling for a trade embargo 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. Ronald 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.cite news
title=How African-Americans helped free South Africa
work=Nelson Mandela and the New South Africa
date=August, 1994
author=Lynn Norment

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

Cold War conflicts in southern Africa

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 the Cuban armed forces. Dellums was criticized for his support of Fidel Castro's involvement with the MPLA in Angola and was called a "Castroite congressman" by the conservative press.cite news
title=In Castro's Corner — African Americans' alleged affinity for Cuba
publisher=National Review,
date=March 6, 2000
author=Jay Nordlinger
] He also introduced legislation (which was unsuccessful) in September 1987 to prohibit economic and military assistance to Zaire, citing poor human rights, corruption, and alleged collaboration with South Africa. [Jeffrey M. Elliot and Mervyn M. Dymally, "Voices of Zaire: Rhetoric or Reality", p. 16]

Military budgets and arms control

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 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 Alameda Naval Air Station in his own district.cite news
publisher=East Bay Express
title=The Radical Insider
author=Will Harper
date=April 3, 2002

Opposition to the MX missile

The MX missile was a "third-generation" inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM). One of its advantages over earlier missiles was its greater survivability. Unlike previous missiles, the MX was mobile. 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 MX was a MIRVed missile — each missile had up to ten nuclear warheads.

Dellums argued that constructing the MX 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 Mormon church in Utah.

The MX project was eventually cancelled and the last missile decommissioned in 2005 as part of the START II treaty.

Opposition to the B-2 Stealth Bomber

The B-2 Stealth bomber is a long range strategic bomber. Featuring "stealth" technology that makes it far less visible to radar, the B-2 was a major technological advance over the existing B-1 Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress bombers. However, it was designed during the Cold War for military scenarios that some argued were less relevant following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It's total program cost was estimated in 1997 at over US$2.2 billion per airplane.cite news
publisher=Federation of American Scientists
title=B-2 Spirit
date=November 30, 1999

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.cite news
title=The B-2 Bomber
] 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; [ Debate on Dellums Amendment to 1998 Defense Authorization Act] June 23, 1997] nonetheless, Congress never approved funding for additional B-2 bombers.

U.S. House Committee positions

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

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. [ Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress) ] ]

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

Dellums' last Congressional election

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.cite news
title=November 1996 General Election: California 9th Congressional District
publisher=RAND Corporation

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

Congressional tribute

Upon his resignation, several members of Congress, including Nancy Pelosi,cite news
author=Nancy Pelosi
title=Tribute to Congressman Ron Dellums
date=February 3, 1998
] Jane Harman,cite news
title=Tribute to the Honorable Ronald V. Dellums
date=February 3, 1998
author=Jane Harman
] 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:

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. [ Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress) ] ]

Congressman Danny Davis of Illinois described Dellums:

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. [ Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress) ] ]

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

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. [ Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress) ] ]

Voting record

Dellums' voting records in Congress were "almost without exception straight As" from groups such as the Sierra Club, the National Organization for Women and the AFL-CIO. He received 100% on consumer group Public Citizen's scorecard.]

In contrast, he received an 'F' from NumbersUSA, a group dedicated to limiting immigration, and a score of seven out of a possible 100 from the League of Private Property Owners, a property rights organization.cite news
publisher=Numbers USA
date=August 6, 2006
title=Immigration Profile of Rep. Ronald Dellums
] [ "Wise Use",- LEAGUE OF PRIVATE PROPERTY VOTERS own words: a scam? ] ]

Mayor of Oakland

Oakland mayoral election

After 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". [Heather MacDonald, "Ex-rep. thrills backers by entering Oakland mayoral race" "Oakland Tribune", October 8, 2005]

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

On June 16, 2006, after a careful ballot count, and a dispute over whether votes for unqualified write-in candidates such as George W. Bush and Homer Simpson counted towards the total, Dellums was unofficially declared the winner in the Oakland mayoral race. Dellums garnered the 50.18 percent majority he needed 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.cite news
publisher=San Francisco Chronicle
title=De La Fuente offers support to Dellums as mayoral winner
author=Christopher Heredia, Janine DeFao
date=June 18, 2006


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. [cite news|first=Heather|last=MacDonald|title=Dellums Makes 4 Additions to His Staff|publication=Oakland Tribune|date=2007-02-27]

Since his election, there has been criticism of the secret nature of the task forces Dellums established, despite having repeatedly vowed to restore "transparency" to city government, and criticism of disarray among the task forces. [cite news|last=Gammon|first=Robert|publication=East Bay Express|title=Oak to Ninth Yin-Yang|date=April 25, 2007|url=|accessdate=2007-04-26]

Within a few months of Dellums' election, Oakland voters were already rating him poorly on key issues. On a scale of 1-10, Dellums scored a 3.7 on improving education, a 3.8 on crime, 4.3 on economic development and a 4.3 on providing housing. [cite news|publication=San Francisco Chronicle
title=Oaklanders cool quickly on Dellums, poll finds

An East Bay editorialist has criticized Dellums for "frittering" away his first year in office, and accused Dellums of making no significant policy initiatives in those areas of concern to average citizens, beyond a public smoking ban. [cite news|last=Johnson|first=Chip|publication=San Francisco Chronicle|title=Dellums, Oakland City Council fritter away the year|accessdate=2007-11-18|url=] . Meanwhile, crime in the city increased dramatically, with Oakland being declared the 4th most dangerous city in the nation. Dellums resisted calls to increase the police force, claiming citizens did not want an oppressive police force, but local reporters expressed skepticism.

Ron Dellums was one of many high-profile supporters of Your Black Muslim Bakery over the years. Various members of the bakery organization have been associated with murders, including the August 2007 public assassination in the Lakeside Apartments District of journalist Chauncey Bailey. Dellums has refused to disavow a letter he sent in support of the Bakery. [ [ East Bay Express | News | Dellums' Scarlet Letter ] ]

Recently, Dellums' official travel expenditures have been examined. He turned in receipts for $50,000 that included first-class airline travel and stay a Ritz Carlton hotel. [ [ Expenses]

Recall attempts

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." [ [ Ron Dellums Attends Town Hall Meeting 9/18/07 ] ] "Recall Dellums" websites have been built. [cite news|last=Gammon|first=Robert|publication=East Bay Express|title=A Misdirected Missive|accessdate=2007-12-23|url=]

An Oakland reporter lead an as-yet-unsuccessful campaign to recall Dellums and released an open letter addressed to Dellums to local media, which caused noted conflict of interest concerns as to her journalistic objectivity. A formal recall petition was circulated in August 2008.citation needed

Partisan affiliations

Though he ran as a Democrat, and caucused as a Democrat in Congress, Dellums describes himself as a Socialist. In the 1970s, Dellums was a member of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC), an offshoot of the Socialist Party of America. He later became vice-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), [ Democratic Socialists of America ] ] 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.

Though an unapologetic Socialist, while running for mayor of Oakland, Dellums was officially registered as a member of the Democratic party.California election results online] All city offices in Oakland are offically non-partisan.

On October 1, 2007 Dellums endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. He was named national chair of Clinton's Urban Policy Committee. [ [ - Media Release ] ]

Drug use allegations

In 1983, Dellums and one of his aides were investigated for cocaine and marijuana use based on a complaint from a House doorkeeper. Eight months later, the investigation closed, having found no basis for the allegations.cite news
title=Historical Summary of Conduct Cases in the House of Representatives
publisher=U.S. House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct
date=November 9, 2004
] cite news
title=Cajun butterknife — Rep. Bob Livingston — Interview
publisher=National Review
date=December 31, 1997
author=Bernadette Malone

1982 Grenada Trip

In 1982 Dellums took a trip to Grenada at the invitation of the Prime Minister of the People's Revolutionary Government, Maurice Bishop. Grenada was building an airstrip that U.S. administration officials claimed could be used for Soviet military aircraft. Dellums traveled to Grenada on his own fact-finding mission and described his findings before Congress:

...based on my personal observations, discussion and analysis of the new international airport under construction in Grenada, it is my conclusion that this project is specifically now and has always been for the purpose of economic development and is not for military use.... It is my thought that it is absurd, patronizing and totally unwarranted for the United States Government to charge that this airport poses a military threat to the United States’ national security.cite news
author=Peter Collier, David Horowitz
date=January 1897
title=Another "Low Dishonest Decade" on the Left

A U.S. invasion of the island later obtained the diary of the former Grenadian defense minister. One entry in it read: "The Revo has been able to crush counter-revolution internationally. Airport will be used for Cuban and Soviet military." Soon after the invasion, members of Dellums's staff traveled to Cuba and allegedly broadcast anti-American statements over Radio Havana.cite web |title=A Betrayal of the Church |url= |accessdate=2007-11-23]

The invasion also recovered a letter from Dellums' chief of staff Carlottia Scott to Maurice Bishop, describing Dellums' feelings towards Bishop and, presumably, Cuban President of the Council of State Fidel Castro.

Ron [Dellums] has become truly committed to Grenada, and has some positive political thinking to share with you.... He’s really hooked on you and Grenada and doesn’t want anything to happen to building the Revolution and making it strong. He really admires you as a person and even more so as a leader with courage and foresight, principles and integrity.... The only other person that I know of that he expresses such admiration for is Fidel.

Another document was recovered showing that Dellums had sent a draft copy of his report on Grenada to Bishop for editing before presenting his report to Congress, stating

Barbara Lee is here presently and has brought with her a report on the international airport that was done by Ron Dellums. They have requested that we look at the document and suggest any changes we deem necessary. They will be willing to make the changes.

Legislative lobbyist

Dellums has worked as a lobbyist, which has drawn criticism described in the East Bay Express, a local newspaper. 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.

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. Other legislative lobbying work:
*Dellums' firm lobbied for Rolls Royce, a company that manufactures military aircraft engines and private automobiles.
*Dellums' company lobbied for 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: the lab generates and stores radioactive waste and has long had a contentious relationship with its residential neighbors and the Berkeley city council.
*Bristol-Myers Squibb, a multinational pharmaceutical corporation.
*Dellums lobbied for the Haitian government in 2001–2002cite news
publisher=San Francisco Chronicle
title=In Oakland, Dellums draws fire in mayor's race
author=Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross
date=March 27, 2006
] and has worked to support Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically-elected former President of Haiti who was allegedly kidnapped at gunpoint in 2004 by the United States military-intelligence apparatuscite web | author=Andrew Buncombe | date=2004-03-03 | url= | title=Aristide's moment of decision: 'Live or die' | publisher=Independent Media TV | accessdate=2005-12-26] cite web | date=2004-03-16 | url= | title= Aristide and His Bodyguard Describe the U.S. Role In His Ouster | publisher= Democracy Now! | accessdate=2005-12-26] cite web | title = Aristide Back in Caribbean Heat |publisher= Washington Post |url = | accessdate=2006-07-21] When running for mayor of Oakland, Dellums listed his most recent profession as "retired Congressman" in election filing forms.cite news
publisher=San Francisco Chronicle
title=Dellums to leave occupation line blank on ballot
author=Jim Herron Zamora
date=March 10, 2006
] When assistant City Clerk Marjo Keller informed the Dellums campaign that this description was unacceptable, the campaign elected to leave the occupation field blank.

Editorialist Doug Ireland wrote a column titled "Dellums for Dollars" criticizing Dellums' lobbying, and said of Dellums, "Ron has gone bad, I'm afraid. He talks the talk, but he doesn't walk the walk anymore."

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."

External links

* [ Dellums victory signifies a sea change in Oakland politics] "San Francisco Chronicle", June 19, 2006
* [ Mayor Ron Dellums' homepage]
* [ Citymayors profile]
* [ Mayors Against Illegal Guns homepage]
* [ "Angola, 1975 to 1980s — The Great Powers Poker Game," from "Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II", by William Blum]

ee also



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