Former San Francisco Mayor and state Assembly Speaker Willie Brown is now the namesake of the western span of the Bay Bridge following a ceremony on Treasure Island today.
Hundreds of people came out for today’s ceremony, which overlooked the new Willie L. Brown Jr. Bridge linking Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco.
The bridge was renamed for Brown via a resolution passed by the state Legislature last September. Brown served as a member of the state Assembly from 1965 to 1995 and as Assembly Speaker from 1980 to the end of his tenure. He then was elected mayor and served from 1996 to 2004.
“I am honored and grateful,” Brown said to a crowd that included Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Attorney General Kamala Harris, various other city and state officials and San Francisco Giants president Larry Baer, among others.
“I am just delighted and will continue to be delighted,” he said.
“I’ll practice bragging rights every time I get a chance.”
Brown said while he likes to micromanage, including overseeing nearly every detail of today’s event, he was unaware of the plans to rename the western span of the Bay Bridge in his honor.
The resolution was introduced by Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, at the request of the California chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Hall was also in attendance at today’s ceremony and acknowledged that the idea to rename the bridge after the former mayor and state legislator drew criticism, including from Gov. Jerry Brown.
“It went from being a no-brainer to being one of the biggest political battles of 2013,” Hall said.
However, he said it was fitting because Willie Brown “paved the way for people of color like me and many others” and “has helped build a city that’s the envy of the world.”
Newsom, who followed Brown as San Francisco’s mayor, joked about his predecessor’s expensive taste in clothes and said that like the Bay Bridge, Brown “is very expensive to maintain.”
However, Newsom thanked Brown for his help during his political career and for his work on behalf of the city and state.
“Thank you for at times being outrageous, for being impeccably outfitted, for being outspoken, but most of all for being outstanding,” he said.
Signage indicating the new name for the bridge is going on the entrances to its western span and is being paid for via private fundraising by the California NAACP.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News