Friend reflects on former Oakland mayor's legacy

Carolyn Tyler Image
ByCarolyn Tyler KGO logo
Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Friend reflects on former Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums' legacy
Ron Dellums' close friend and campaign organizer calls the former Oakland mayor "the political lion of Bay Area politics" who was "unafraid to challenge authority from a principled position."

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Former East Bay congressman and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums died early Monday. The 82-year-old was a native son of Oakland.

Mayor Libby Schaaf says as a girl growing up in Oakland, she admired the congressman. She has ordered flags flown at half staff. Schaaf says. "He's always been a giant in moral leadership. He's a homegrown hero."

RELATED: Former Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums dies

Dellums began his political career on the Berkeley City Council and rose to prominence as a radical social activist during the turbulent 60's.

He was elected to Congress in 1970, continuing his crusade against poverty, apartheid and the Vietnam War.

Paul Cobb was a close friend and campaign organizer. He calls Dellums "the political lion of Bay Area politics." Cobb is publisher of the Post News Group and says his paper featured Dellums on the cover hundreds of times. Cobb says "he was unafraid to challenge authority from a principled position. He stood strong and solid."

Cobb was among those who pushed a reluctant Dellums to run for Oakland mayor. Dellums agreed but said he would be a "part time" mayor. It was a divisive race.

One of his rivals, Ignacio De la Fuente, paid tribute Monday.

"He left a mark on Oakland. He created a nonprofit to fight for equal justice in Oakland. He left his fingerprints, so to speak," De la Fuente said.

The federal building in Oakland bears Dellum's name, honoring his political influence. He was one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus and helped pave the way for other elected officials, including Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

She holds his old seat. Lee issued a statement saying in part, "I feel blessed to have called Congressman Dellums my dear friend, predecessor and mentor. I will miss him tremendously. I will hold dear to my heart the many lessons I learned from this great public servant."

Services will be held in Washington, DC and Oakland, CA. Further information will be provided at a later date.

The family asks for privacy at this time.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Dellums institute for Social Justice Cards and correspondence can also be sent to The Family of Ronald V. Dellums, 3220 N Street, NW; Washington, DC 20007.