b. burke

Yvonne Brathwaite Burke

Yvonne Brathwaite Burke (born October 5, 1932) is a politician from Los Angeles, California, U.S. She is the Los Angeles County Supervisor from the 2nd district, a position she has held since 1992. During this time she has served as the Chair of the Board of Supervisors in 1993–1994, 1997–1998 and 2002–2003. Her husband is William Burke, a prominent philanthropist and creator of the Los Angeles Marathon.

Early life

She was born Perle Yvonne Watson in Los Angeles, California and attended public schools. Upon graduation from Manual Arts High School, she attended UCLA. While there she was a sorority sister with future politician Diane Watson. She received her B.A. from UCLA in 1953 and received her J.D. from USC Law School in 1956 before entering private practice.

Prior to representing the 2nd district, she represented the 4th district (1979–1980), was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives initially representing portions of Los Angeles (1973–1979), and was a member of the California State Assembly (1967–1973).

Terms in U.S. Congress

During her tenure in Congress, she served on the House Select Committee on Assassinations. In 1973, she became the first member of Congress to give birth while in office. She did not seek re-election to Congress in 1978, instead she ran for Attorney General of California. She won the Democratic nomination over Los Angeles City Attorney Burt Pines, but was defeated in the general election by Republican George Deukmejian.

California political involvement

Shortly after leaving Congress, Burke was appointed to the Board of Regents of the University of California by Governor Jerry Brown in 1979. Later that year Brown also appointed her to fill a vacancy on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. Burke was the first female and first African-American supervisor. Her district however, was comprised largely of affluent conservative white areas in the coastal part of the county. Burke was defeated in her attempt to hold the seat she he been appointed to by Republican Deane Dana in the 1980 election. In 1982 Brown again appointed her a UC Regent, as she had resigned from her previous appointment as Regent upon being named L.A. County Supervisor.

She has announced that she will not seek reelection when her term expires in 2008. On July 27 2007, the Los Angeles Times published a story concerning its investigation into Burke, in which it revealed that she was living not at her residence within the mostly economically depressed district that she represents, but at another residence that she owns in wealthy Brentwood, California instead, an apparent violation of state law. Burke responded that she has only been living in her Brentwood residence while her supposedly main residence is being remodeled.


Gray, Pamela Lee. "Yvonne Brathwaite Burke: The Congressional Career of California's First Black Congresswoman, 1972–1978." Ph.D. diss., University of Southern California, 1987.


Further reading

External links

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