Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Perseverance Toward Political Office

BOND: What made you go on? Most people would've said, "Well, I've had enough of this."

WATSON: Well, I almost said that, but had it not been for my friends, my sister, her best friends, that would bring their children's milk money to keep my office open. We gave a fundraiser every Friday night — $1.00 entry, $1.00 per drink, and my sister carried in the back of her car a galvanized tub, a roll of tickets and everything and the booze, and we'd take them from house to house to house. We'd raise enough money to keep the office open another week and so on. Oh, I could go on and tell you, regale you with the experiences we had in the two years that I ran for office. Really, it was four years, but I did win and because I won in 1975, June of '75, in '76 the Supreme Court of California ordered integration. And I was sitting there with Kathy Brown, Kathleen Brown Rice then, who was Jerry Brown's sister. We ran together as a team and we both were sworn — in fact, Julian swore me in.

BOND: Oh, really?

WATSON: Yes. And her father I think swore her in.

BOND: Governor Brown, the first Governor Brown.

WATSON: Yes, the first Governor Brown, and when we were sitting there at an orientation session and the L.A. Times reporter came up and said, flash, the Supreme Court has ordered the integration of schools and they got our picture. It appeared on the front page of the L.A. Times. For some reason, they must've turned the page like that because every ethnic feature I had was spread out across and she was very pert-looking. My mother called me at six o'clock in the morning, she says, "Whatever they say, I still love you." So I went and got my paper. I said, "Oh, my goodness." And they would take pictures of me in dark colors in front of a dark background.