New Willie Brown signs to be unveiled on Bay Bridge


Thousands of drivers will see Brown's name every day. The former mayor and assembly speaker didn't ask for a sign, but he's getting one anyway. Actually, he's getting two of them, one for each deck of the bridge that will be named after him -- paid for by private money.

Ironically, the man, among those responsible for the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, will have the older western span named for him, thanks to the efforts of the NAACP. "In their research, they discovered that the western span was really more significant and already established as a permanent engineering feat," Brown told ABC7 News.

In 40 years of lawmaking, running a major city, and jousting with political foes, asked where this ranks on his list of accomplishments Brown said, "This is number one. There's nothing, I don't think, that could compare."

Brown is 79-years-old now. He says he never sought the honor, but it could be an inspiration for African American youth, along with his other accomplishments like being the first black and longest-serving assembly speaker, and San Francisco's first black mayor.

However, political opponents call him a polarizing figure and say state guidelines discourage naming state property after people who are still alive. State lawmakers approved the naming over those objections.

Brown even has his own favorite tale he once heard from an opponent. "He could do nothing about it. It just dawned on him. He is going to enjoy every day of his life, rolling over me, on the bridge," he said.

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