Governor Gray Davis - Digital Library
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Celebrating Diversity: African American

A Commitment To Service

In Vietnam, Gray Davis saw firsthand the disproportionate burden placed on people of color to fight that war. After returning from Vietnam, the Governor was moved to do something about it. His first job in politics was for Tom Bradley, the late African-American mayor of Los Angeles.

Investing in Public Education

Gov. Davis has targeted historically disadvantaged communities with resources to help people help themselves. That means investing in and reforming our schools.

  • Increased Funding K-12 - Since becoming governor, he has increased funding for K-12 education by $9.6 billion, or 30 percent - the largest increase in CA history.
  • Raised academic standards - in every classroom and for all groups of students in our public schools.
  • Increased College Financial Aid - Expanded the Cal-Grant program to guarantee all qualifying high school seniors the assistance to pay for college.
  • College Admissions - Four-Percent Admissions Program ensures admission at a UC school for the top 4% of students from every high school in California. Since the "Four-Percent" program was implemented in 2001, African-American freshman admissions have increased by 30 percent.
  • In addition, Governor Davis signed legislation that establishes an African-American Political and Economic Institute at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Combating Discrimination

  • Housing Discrimination - Banned housing discrimination based on income or financial status.
  • Hate Crimes - Made the nation's toughest hate crime laws even tougher by making hate-motivated murder punishable by the maximum penalties available under the law (life imprisonment and the death penalty).
  • Racial Profiling - Ordered the CHP to analyze traffic stop data - including the race of those stopped, the reason and outcome. Racial profiling is outlawed in CA and all officers are required to undergo training to preclude racial profiling.

Health Care

  • Health Insurance for Children - Increased enrollment in the Healthy Families health insurance program from 2,200 African-American kids ('99) to 17,695 today.
  • Infant Mortality - Quadrupled funding for a state program aimed at reducing black infant mortality rates by helping at-risk mothers get appropriate health services.

Improving Safety for African-Americans

The Governor requested the CHP to develop an African-American traffic safety initiative to reduce the high rate of death and injury among African-Americans.


  • Appointed the first African-American Secretary of Health and Human Services, Grantland Johnson.
  • Appointed African-American woman to serve as first Small Business Advocate, Sonya Blake.
  • First governor in the nation to appoint African-Americans to both the Adjutant General and Assistant Adjutant Generals positions in the Dept. of the Military.