Library exhibit celebrates the accomplishments and enduring legacy of former California Governor Edmund G. ‘Pat’ Brown
A visionary for education, civil rights, and distinguished for helping connect all of California via water and asphalt, former Governor Edmund G. Brown is being celebrated at Cal State L.A. with the exhibit, “A Man of Achievements: Governor Edmund G. ‘Pat’ Brown.”
Co-curated by the University Library, where it will be on display through spring 2012, and the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs, the exhibit pays homage to Brown’s “living legacy” and the enduring influence he has had on California since serving as governor from 1959 to 1967.
The exhibit includes photos, books written about and by Brown, artifacts, and poster boards that vividly outline many of his accomplishments. It also features the “Living the Legacy” video that was presented at the Institute’s 30th Annual Awards Dinner.
As showcased in the exhibit, Brown is best known for his highly-successful efforts in four areas that were critical in California throughout the 20th Century, and still are today: infrastructure (the freeway and highway system), education, civil rights, and statewide water distribution.
“This exhibit reminds us of Governor Brown’s timeless vision and how what he fought for and accomplished in office still resonates today throughout California,” said Jaime A. Regalado, who has served as executive director of the Institute since 1991. “He was a modern politician, one who talked to people and knew how to work both sides of the political aisle. He was a champion for civil rights, and was pivotal in helping modernize our state.”
CSULA alumna and graphic designer Michelle Wong conceptualized the design of the exhibit, highlighting the mission of the Institute, which is dedicated to the quest for social justice and equality of opportunity, enlightened civic engagement, and enhancing the quality of life for all Californians.
In the exhibit’s display, entitled “Connecting California Freeways,” Brown is described as “the greatest freeway builder in California history.” He campaigned on the idea of “One State,” which embodied his objectives of both connecting California through an efficient highway/freeway system, but also in his efforts to enable to state to share water resources.
The display, “Water: The Need,” recognizes Brown for his ability to build a consensus on water policy through his “vision, power, and passion” by unifying northern and southern Californian politicians regarding the management of water.
He also campaigned with conviction to have the Burns-Porter Act pass in 1959. The California Water Aqueduct was later named the “Governor Edmund G. Brown California Aqueduct” in his honor, which is the state’s longest water transport system.
“He was a very innovative and compassionate governor. He had a vision for California. When he entered office he was prepared to move California down the road of economic and social reform. He was also a man who could work with, not only his own Democratic Party, but also the Republican Party,” said Martin Schiesl, an emeritus professor of history at CSULA who also provided text for the exhibit. “He had a unique style about him—not confrontational—but he would reach out to people to get support for his programs. At the same time, he was a man of great principles and ideas who welcomed cooperation. I would say that he developed the bipartisan style of governing.”
In education, Governor Brown is recognized for signing the Master Plan for Higher Education (Donahoe Higher Education Act of 1960) into law. His support was regarded as critical to the law’s passage. After leaving office, he taught American politics at CSULA in 1988 and 1989.
Brown has a notable civil rights and equality record, and the exhibit highlights some of his efforts in supporting anti-discrimination legislation that brought the state to the forefront of the movement.
He also signed and supported the Fair Employment Practices Act, which prohibited discrimination practices in employment and public housing, and established the Fair Employment Practices Agency and its commission. He also signed into law the Rumford Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discrimination in private housing.
“The Institute reflects the personality of the governor. It’s a very compassionate, caring organization. They bring many groups on campus to interact with and hold events and meetings dealing with social and economic problems,” said Schiesl. “In a sense, the Pat Brown Institute operates as a public forum, which is the kind of governorship that Pat Brown pursued. His legacy is part of the Pat Brown Institute.”
The Pat Brown Institute at Cal State L.A. is dedicated to the quest for social justice and equality of opportunity, enlightened civic engagement, and enhancing the quality of life for all Californians.
The PBI is a non-partisan public policy center dedicated to sustaining the vision and legacy of former California Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown through convening public policy forums, engaging multi sector stakeholders and diverse communities, and conducting timely policy research and community-driven initiatives.
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