Willie Brown has spent his life in public service. He served over 30 years in the California State Assembly – 15 of those years as Speaker – before becoming the first African American mayor of San Francisco. For the past 10 years, he’s been writing a column for the San Francisco Chronicle on politics, movies, art, and anything else on his mind. When he took the podium at the Goldman School of Public Policy recently, he touched on lessons from all those experiences. But, his main focus was the 2018 midterms and the upcoming general election.
Brown began by looking back to 2016, explaining why he predicted Donald Trump would win the presidency. Brown, a lifelong Democrat and friend of Hillary Clinton, says Clinton could have been one of the best presidents in history. But, Brown knew that Trump had the skill and ability to connect with voters in a way Clinton could not. Brown also traces Clinton’s loss across several election cycles, when Democrats lost the House and the Senate during the Obama years.
Trump’s victory however, could be the key to the Democratic Party’s recovery, Brown says. He says Trump has failed to build a coalition beyond his core supporters that voted him into office. That helped Democrats win in states like Michigan and Wisconsin in 2018, where Clinton lost in 2016. Brown also credits Nancy Pelosi with organizing the party to help take back the House. But, in order to keep that momentum going and defeat President Trump in 2020, Brown says Democrats have to identify a strong candidate with the same ability to move voters. He says there are three strong options from California, and one in particular he hopes to see on the ballot.
The opportunity to build an urban university campus from the ground up is rare, but that’s exactly what UC San Francisco had the chance to do with its Mission Bay campus. The plot of land just south of AT&T Park was barren, but under the leadership of Chancellor J. Michael Bishop (now Emeritus), a spectacular setting for cutting-edge science research has blossomed. The first building, Genentech Hall, opened in 2003, and today the campus is a vibrant and vital research and biotechnology hub.
Chancellor Bishop may be a Nobel Laureate (Physiology or Medicine, 1989), but his interests extend into the arts. That’s why he insisted that 1% of the campus’ construction budget be allocated to public art. The result? A world class collection that, in Chancellor Bishop’s words, “creates an environment that will be a credit and benefit to the entire community, a stimulating and pleasant place to work and visit, and a permanent legacy to the city.”
Even if you can’t make it to campus, you can experience the J. Michael Bishop Art Collection and learn more about its history by watching “Naked Art: Bishop Art Collection, UCSF,” the third installment in our four-part series about public art at the University of California. The program highlights many of the works and includes interviews with Chancellor Bishop, artist Paul Kos and UCSF faculty and staff who helped assemble this diverse collection of sculpture, mosaics, installations, photographs and more.
Make sure to visit the “Naked Art” website to watch previous episodes about UC San Diego’s Stuart Collection and UCLA’s Murphy Sculpture Garden. The fourth program, “Museums without Walls,” premieres March 23 on UCTV Prime. And don’t forget to enter our “Show Us Your Naked Art and Win!” contest, which ends April 3.