Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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As part of the city’s observance of African American Heritage Month, Councilmembers Herb Wesson, Bernard C. Parks and Jan Perry sponsored an exhibit on the Bridge Gallery honoring Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Burke, who is retiring, for her many years of public service. Left to right: Janice Hahn, Parks, Wesson, Burke and Perry.

CNS - Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke, who will end her lengthy career as an elected official later this year, was feted at City Hall Feb. 8 as a woman who broke barriers for women and African Americans in government.

“Government service or community service makes a difference, not only in those you serve but it makes a difference in yourself,” Burke said.

“It gives you a sense of accomplishment and it’s not easy. It is usually the hardest thing you’ll ever do ... you take all the slings and arrows. (There’s) not always a lot of rewards, but the important thing is you have the satisfaction of doing something to change your community, your state, your government and, in many instances, the future.”

In celebration of African American Heritage Month, an exhibit on Burke’s accomplishments, including archived photographs, paintings, articles andvideotaped interviews, is on display on the City Hall Bridge.

“A Lady of Firsts” highlights that Burke was:

  • the first African American woman elected to the California State Legislature;
  • the first Black woman elected to Congress from California;
  • the first member of Congress to give birth while in office;
  • the first African American and first woman to serve on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors; and
  • the first woman to serve on the board of the Los Angeles Federal Reserve Bank.

In 1974, Burke and her then-infant daughter Autumn appeared on the cover of Ebony magazine. Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry said that article made a lasting impression on her as a teenager.

“I remember picking up Ebony magazine in my house and talking to my mother and grandmother, who lived with us, and said, ‘Well, who is this lady?’ Wow, you mean she can do that and still have a baby and go to work?’

“It was almost unheard of then, but it stuck to me,” she said. “My mother still has that magazine. She still has it because it was such—and should still be—an inspiration to young women everywhere.”

City Councilman Bernard Parks, who is running against Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas for Burke’s seat on the Board of Supervisors, said he is continually amazed by her institutional memory.

“Being with her is like being with an encyclopedia ... it’s a history lesson each time you have a chance to be in her presence,” Parks said.

City Councilman Herb Wesson, who previously served as Burke’s chief of staff, said she is “one of the greatest elected officials that I’ve ever known personally.”

The primary election to fill Burke’s seat will be held June 3. She has represented the 2nd District since 1992.

Category: Local


 

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