Ron Dellums, the former mayor of Oakland and longtime member of the United States House of Representatives, has died. He was 82.
Dellums, a fiery anti-war activist who championed social justice, served multiple terms in Congress between 1971 and 1998. He later took over as the mayor of Oakland from 2007 to 2011.
As the first African American man from Northern California to serve in Congress, Dellums was at the center of liberal movements in the 1970s and 1980s. He led the drive to sanction South Africa during apartheid, challenged U.S. entry into wars and increased military spending, and helped start the Congressional Black Caucus.
Longtime adviser Dan Lindheim said Dellums died early Monday at his home in Washington, D.C., of cancer.
After hearing about the news of Dellums’ passing, former President Bill Clinton took to Twitter, writing that Dellums was “intense and intelligent, fearless and philosophical.”
“He spoke truth to power and appealed to America’s conscience in championing those who were left out and left behind, whether in the East Bay, across the nation, or around the world,” the rest of Clinton’s tweet read. “We will miss him.”
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, issued a statement Monday morning, calling Dellums “a great warrior and statesman” as well as a “dear friend.”
“The contributions that Congressman Dellums made to our East Bay community, the nation, and the world are too innumerable to count,” she said in the statement.
Current Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf remembered Dellums as “a true American hero.”
“Ron Dellums governed from a place of morality and compassion, and his political activism shed light on injustices within our country and all over the world,” Schaaf said in a statement. “His progressive values set the bedrock for Oakland values, and his life of public service will continue to inspire all of us to fight for a more just and equitable society.”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson calls Dellums one of the most significant social justice figures of the last half century.