SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Dignitaries from San Francisco and the State of California attended the official re-naming ceremony of the Bay Bridge’s western span in honor of former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr.

Around 500 people congregated outside Treasure Island Tuesday around noon with the city’s skyline serving as the background. Brown, also the former longtime Speaker of the State Assembly, turns 80 next month said he was overwhelmed by the honor and joked that it gives him something “legitimate to brag about.”

From the podium Brown said he was delighted that everyone came out to help celebrate the occasion, but he also took a moment to point out that the ceremony was especially poignant since it coincided on the day of his late mother’s 105th birthday.

Some of the notable dignitaries that took the stage before Brown included Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Dr. Clarence B. Jones, who was Dr. Martin Luther King’s personal attorney and political advisor, and Isadore Hall, the Assemblyman from Los Angeles who sponsored the re-naming legislation that passed last fall.

“This day is all about honoring a man of political ideology to build a city and a state that continues to be the envy of the world,” Hall said.

Last week, Brown had told KCBS that re-naming the bridge span after him was an even greater honor for African-Americans as a whole to have the second busiest bridge in the nation to bare his name.

The NAACP was behind the effort to re-name the bridge as well despite Brown’s initial reluctance. He said he came around after he realized the significance of the symbol it would be for African-American children to learn about in school.

Brown was the Assembly’s first black speaker and the longest-serving speaker in state history, presiding over the 80-member house from 1980 to 1995.

He was considered among the most powerful state politicians of his time.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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