Autumn Burke was a political symbol before she could walk.
There she was on the cover of Ebony magazine in March 1974, nestled in her mother’s arms. Her mother, then-Rep. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, penned a piece on the type of world she wanted to create for baby Autumn.
Despite that political pedigree – not to mention her father’s role as a prominent businessman serving on public boards and commissions – the younger Burke said politics was never a foregone conclusion.
“It was always a question whether I was actually going to run for office,” said Burke, a Democrat representing Los Angeles. “I wanted to have my own accomplishments, and for me that meant being in business.”
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It ended up being one of those business ventures that ushered Burke into politics. Despite her lifelong exposure to Los Angeles politicians – “I spent Christmas with them,” Burke recalled – she had never encountered former Assemblyman Steve Bradford until she began working with his office when Bradford was carrying a solar energy bill and Burke was consulting for an energy efficiency company.
“The more I got involved,” Burke said, “the more I realized this was where I belonged.”
In 1974, one of the elder Burke’s conclusions was that more African Americans needed to enter public life.
“When people ask me what Autumn is going to be when she grows up, I tell them: ‘she’s going to be President,’” she wrote in Ebony. “I don’t really care what Autumn does with her life as long as she is a good person, but I say that to put it on people’s minds so that they can expand their vision.”
Now the new mother of a young daughter, Burke said the world her own mother envisioned for her four decades ago has not quite arrived. Not yet.
“I don’t necessarily want (my daughter) back in this building, even though it would be cool to have a third generation,” Burke said. “But whatever she does I want her to be paid fairly, and I want her to be able to get in the car and drive across town and I don’t want her to worry she will ever be stopped because she’s African American.”
WATCH: Burke discusses whether her mother’s “The Kind of World I Want For My Child” essay has come true.
Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.
Residence: Marina del Rey
Education: Bachelor’s degree in theater, University of Southern California, 1995. Certificate in broadcast journalism, UCLA.
Experience: Founder, Mandeville Group LLC. Vice president, LA Events Inc. Director of Community Relations, Los Angeles Marathon.
Assembly committees: Accountability and Administrative Review, Health, Housing and Community Development, Rules, Utilities and Commerce.