Brown, Willie: Moscone first impressions


Willie Brown: Moscone was from a family with a working mother and nothing else, so Moscone went the junior college route. He apparently was recruited to play basketball, and he did play basketball. I think it was Santa Rosa Junior College or someplace like that where he went off to school. He didn’t go to school with us here. He didn’t go to USF (University of San Francisco). He didn’t go to SF State (San Francisco State). And then he went on to UOP (University of the Pacific); at the time it was called College of the Pacific, and he went on there to play. He returned in ‘54 maybe to go to law school at Hastings Law which is where we all ultimately ended up, and which is what started for us a relationship that has lasted a lifetime. That all began at Hasting College of Law on McAllister over in the Civic Center area where Moscone was an outstanding student. He was an honors student. Burton was a student, I was a student, and many of our other colleagues were there as well. Jon Rubin: So is that where you first met George? Willie Brown: That’s where I first met George. I met him at Hastings. Jon Rubin: Can you remember your first impressions? Willie Brown: Yes, yes. George was a handsome dude. Debonair. Fiery in every way. He was dramatically different from John Burton whom I had known for three or four years. They had come by way of the same product in San Francisco, the same school system generally speaking, but for some reason the social graces that Moscone had were really foreign to John Burton in every way. Moscone was a charmer, and he had an absolute love for people that evidenced itself in every way. We were fellow janitors at Hastings. We both worked to put ourselves through law school, and we worked as janitors at Hastings while Burton was then in the bartending business working outside. We worked inside of the school system. Moscone was a year ahead of me. He graduated a year ahead of me at Hastings. In that time frame I think we all began to pay more attention to what was happening beyond the walls of the school particularly since we had become exposed to the NAACP, exposed to what occurred, the King movement that started in 1965 or so. We all were fascinated with con-law [Convict Law], and Harley Flashman’s teaching of con-law which was an activist operation so we began all to get the flavor that maybe there was something beyond just being lawyers. I think that George evidenced the same spirit.


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The Moscone oral history interviews are part of the George Moscone Collection, MSS 328.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archives, University of the Pacific Library

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