The little school I attended had six classrooms in it, and each room housed two classes. There was no library. There was no gymnasium. There were no indoor toilets. By the time I reached the twelfth grade, another building was added, because the number of kids had grown, and it did have indoor restrooms. There were just thirteen of us in my graduating class. I was good in math but even better at literature. I read all of Shakespeare, and I loved Chaucer. I wanted to get an education that was portable — other than just being a schoolteacher. I knew with the limitations associated with race that would never happen if I stayed in Texas. This was 1951, and my departure was rooted in that reasoning.

Willie Brown was born and raised in the East Texas town of Mineola. After graduating from high school, he moved to California, where he earned a bachelor’s degree at San Francisco State University and a law degree at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. He served in the California State Assembly for 31 years. Elected mayor of San Francisco in 1995, he successfully ran for reelection last December.