The 1955 yearbook lists this for Edmund “Jerry” Brown, Jr.: “Jerry proved his oratorical abilities by winning the Freshman Elocution and Sophomore Oratorical contests, being chosen on the Silver and Gold Medal Debates, and gaining the Degree of Distinction in the National Forensic League. He was also a member of the CSF and the Activities Dance Committee.” In his senior year, he was a key member of the SI chapter of the NFL that took the Grand Sweepstakes Award, making it the best team in Northern California.
While Brown was a student at SI, his father served as Attorney General for California and, in 1959, voters elected him Governor. Jerry attended SCU and joined the Society of Jesus for a time. After he left, he earned his B.A. in classics from UC Berkeley in 1961 and then attended Yale Law School in 1964.
Brown received his start in politics in 1969 when voters elected him to the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees. In 1970, he was elected California’s Secretary of State, and four years later he followed in his father’s footsteps to become California governor, earning reelection in 1978.
He came to SI on October 6, 1978, to register students eligible to vote for the upcoming election. He met with Fr. McCurdy and was interviewed by three students for the school newspaper. At recess, he addressed the student body and spoke about the advantages of living in a democratic society.
During Brown’s tenure as governor, California produced a quarter of the country’s new jobs. Brown established the nation’s first agricultural labor relations law and instituted the California Conservation Corp. He helped to preserve the fragile coastline by creating the California Coastal Protection Act and worked to institute the country’s first building and appliance energy efficiency standards, making the state the leader in solar and alternative energy. Brown also takes pride in the number of women and minorities he appointed to government positions.
After leaving office, he traveled to Japan and India, where he worked with Mother Teresa. He practiced law in Los Angeles before becoming chairman of the state’s Democratic Party in 1989. Two years later, he resigned from that position, citing his “disgust with the growing influence of money in politics.”19
He ran for president in 1992, making a strong showing thanks, in part, to his refusal to accept contributions larger than $100, and was the only Democratic candidate to pose a serious threat to Bill Clinton. In 1998, Oakland residents elected him as their city’s mayor, and he won reelection in 2002 with the goal of revitalizing the city’s downtown “in a spirit of elegant diversity.”20