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Yvonne Brathwaite Burke

Member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
from District 2
In office
1992 – December 1, 2008
Preceded by Kenneth Hahn
Succeeded by Mark Ridley-Thomas

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from 's 28th and 37nd district
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1979
Preceded by Lionel Van Deerlin
Succeeded by Julian C. Dixon

Born October 5, 1932 (1932-10-05) (age 77)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Brathwaite, William Burke
Children Autumn Roxanne Burke

Yvonne Brathwaite Burke (born October 5, 1932) is a politician from Los Angeles, California, U.S. She was the Los Angeles County Supervisor from the 2nd district, a position she held from 1992-2008. During this time she has served as the Chair of the Board of Supervisors in 1993–1994, 1997–1998 and 2002–2003. She was the first African-American woman to represent the West Coast in Congress. Her husband is William Burke, a prominent philanthropist and creator of the Los Angeles Marathon.

On December 1, 2008, she retired from the Board of Supervisors and was replaced by Mark Ridley-Thomas.


Early life

Born Perle Yvonne Watson on October 5, 1932 in Los Angeles to James A. Watson and the former Lola Moore.[1][2] She married Dr. William A. Burke in Los Angeles on June 14, 1972. To this union was born a daughter, Autumn Roxanne on November 23, 1973.[1][2][3]

Education: Attended University of California at Berkeley, c. 1949-51; University of California at Los Angeles, bachelor's degree; University of Southern California Law School, juris doctorate, 1956.

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 state Senator 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.

In 1992, Burke ran for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. After a hard-fought campaign that often turned negative, Bruke defeated then-state Senator Diane Watson.

She has announced that she would not seek reelection when her term expired in 2008. On July 27, 2007, the Los Angeles Times published a front-page story concerning its investigation into Burke, which revealed that she was not living at a listed residence in the mostly low-income district she represents, but at another residence that she owns in wealthy Brentwood, California instead, an apparent violation of state law.[4] Burke responded that she was only living at her Brentwood mansion while the townhouse she listed in official political filings was being remodeled.[5]


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.


  1. ^ a b Phelps, Shirelle (editor) (1998). Who's Who Among African Americans (11th Edition). Detroit, Michigan, London: Gale Research. p. 178. ISBN 0-7876-2469-1.  
  2. ^ a b "California Birth Index 1905-1995 [database on-line"]. United States: The Generations Network. 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-04.  
  3. ^ "California Marriage Index 1960-1985 [database on-line"]. United States: The Generations Network. 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-04.  
  4. ^ Leonard, Jack, and Lait, Matt. Burke has residence far removed from her constituency. Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2007.
  5. ^ Prince, Richard. L.A. Times Stakes Out Politician's Digs. Richard Prince's Journal-isms, July 27, 2007.

Further reading

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Don A. Allen
California State Assemblymember, 63rd District
Succeeded by
Julian C. Dixon
Preceded by
James A. Hayes
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
4th district

Succeeded by
Deane Dana
Preceded by
Kenneth Hahn
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
2nd district

Succeeded by
Mark Ridley-Thomas
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Lionel Van Deerlin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 37th congressional district

Succeeded by
Jerry Lyle Pettis
Preceded by
Alphonzo E. Bell, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 28th congressional district

Succeeded by
Julian C. Dixon


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