Ronald Vernie Dellums was born on 24 November 1935 in Oakland, California.  Dellums’ parents were Willa Terry Dellums (mother) and Vernie Dellums (father). His mother was  a labour organizer and his father a longshoreman. 

Dellums attended Saint Patrick Catholic School. Unable to get a college scholarship, he served in the United States Marine Corps from 1954 to 1956. With the help of the G.I. Bill, he attended San Francisco College, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1960. In 1962, he received his Master’s degree in Social Welfare from the University of California at Berkeley. In the same year he began his career as a psychiatric social worker in the Department of Mental Hygiene in Berkeley.  Dellums got involved in community politics when he taught at San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley.

In 1967, after he was elected to the Berkeley City Council, he became known as a spokesperson for African American Community Affairs and for his radical political beliefs. Dellums was elected to Congress at the age of 35 years. He emerged as the most radical outspoken Congressman in Washington. Few weeks after his election, he called for Congressional investigations into alleged American war crimes in Vietnam. He co- founded the Congressional Black Caucus. After two years in this position, he started a campaign to end the apartheid in South Africa. The next year, he introduced the Comprehensive Anti- Apartheid Act which called for sanctions against South Africa.

Dellums remained in Congress until his resignation on 6 February 1998. After his resignation, he wrote his autobiography, Lying Down with the Lions: A Public Life from the Streets of Oakland to the Halls Power.
 In June 2006, he was nominated as the mayor of Oakland. After his term as a mayor, including getting the largest grant in Oakland history, he refused to run for elections in 2010.
Ronald Vernie Dellums died at his home in Washington on 30 July 2018 at the age of 82. He is survived by his widow, Cynthia Dellums and their four children.


McFadden, R., Ron Dellums, 82, Dies; Unrelenting in Congress, He Upheld Left’s Ideals, from The New York Times [online] Available at [Accessed: 17 September 2019]

Kealoha, S. (2018), RONALD VERNIE DELLUMS (1935-2018), from Black past [online] Available at [Accessed: 17 September 2019]

Williams, D., (2019) Ron Dellums; American Politician, from Britannica [online] Available at[Accessed: 17 September 2019]

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