The Urban League of Portland honors the life and legacy of Ron Dellums, a thirteen-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing Oakland, CA who died July 30, 2018. He was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. The self-described “afro-topped, bell-bottomed radical” brought experience as a U.S. Marine-turned-pacifist and social worker to a 1970s Congress still adjusting to its newest brand of political leader: the civil rights activist.
Dellums did not wait for permission; from the outset of public service he championed bills to demilitarize the federal budget, end apartheid, spur affordable housing development in the nation’s capital, preserve the natural environment, and more. His discerning eye for the human impact of any bill stood nearly peerless in the House. He earned the rare approval from politically disparate groups including labor, environmentalists, racial equity activists, and human rights organizations. In his 27 years in the House, he never wavered in his accountability to end oppression both in America and abroad.
Representative Dellums created space in the national dialogue for Black leaders to be fierce, unapologetic advocates of a more peaceful, just, and humane society for every individual. The Urban League of Portland continues the fight for economic liberation and civil rights in a political context forged by his resolve. We are more effective thanks to his efforts. The national Urban League movement stands on the shoulders of courageous Black elders like Dellums, who fought their way in to the halls of power and never compromised justice to political expectation.
May he rest in power.
Description: Ron Dellums (middle) with then wife Roscoe (left) and Coretta Scott King (right).
Source: From the NYTimes Obituary, attributed to Lennox McLendon/Associated Press