Historical Highlights

Representative Augustus Freeman (Gus) Hawkins of California

August 31, 1907
Representative Augustus Freeman (Gus) Hawkins of California Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
A 14-term Congressman, Augustus (Gus) Hawkins chaired four committees during his tenure in the House of Representatives.
On this date, Representative Augustus Freeman (Gus) Hawkins of California was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. After earning a B.A. in economics from UCLA in 1931, Hawkins became interested in politics. In 1934, he defeated a 16–year incumbent to earn a seat in the California state assembly. As a member of the assembly, Hawkins represented the interests of his predominantly African–American and Hispanic district. In 1962, he campaigned for a congressional district that covered central Los Angeles. Elected to the 88th Congress (1963–1965), Hawkins mastered the institutional intricacies of the House to effectively shepherd legislation that provided educational and employment opportunities for the underprivileged. One of Hawkins’s lasting legacies was the establishment of the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission–a federal agency that investigated discrimination in the workplace–in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He combated unemployment with the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1978, an act that led to the creation of 660,000 new jobs. During his service, Hawkins served on a number of committees. He was a member of the Education and Labor Committee during his entire tenure, eventually becoming chairman in the 98th Congress (1983–1985). Hawkins retired at the end of the 101st Congress (1989–1991). Months after his 100th birthday, Hawkins died on November 10, 2007.

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