Willie Lewis Brown, Jr., former San Francisco mayor and former California State Assembly speaker, 2006; photo: Thomas Hawk
Many migrants or children of migrants traveled a more conventional path to power — some started businesses and others ran for public office. Willie Brown was born in segregated Jim Crow Texas in 1934. Seeking opportunity, he moved to California in 1951 as a young man. After earning a law degree he ran for election to the California State Assembly and won a seat in 1964. He served as speaker of that body for over 20 years and in 1995 was elected the first black mayor of San Francisco.