Capitol Alert

Video: KVIE airs documentary on one of California’s first black lawmakers

Video: KVIE airs documentary on one of California’s first black lawmakers

Assemblyman Byron Rumford tackled housing discrimination, other civil rights issues from 1948 to 1966. Video courtesy of Five Bellz Entertainment
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Assemblyman Byron Rumford tackled housing discrimination, other civil rights issues from 1948 to 1966. Video courtesy of Five Bellz Entertainment

Coming soon to a television near you: Fair Legislation, a documentary on the life of Byron Rumford, one of the first African-Americans elected to the California Legislature.

A pharmacist from Berkeley who served in the Assembly from 1949 to 1966, Rumford was a pioneer on civil rights issues, carrying legislation to integrate the state National Guard and ban employment discrimination.

His most notable achievement was the California Fair Housing Act of 1963, which made it illegal to refuse to sell or rent to someone based on their race in public housing and large apartment buildings. The California Real Estate Association sponsored a successful voter referendum the next year to repeal the act, but the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled it illegal and the law was restored.

Directed and produced by Bay Area filmmaker Doug Harris, Fair Legislation features interviews with Rumford’s family and Capitol figures such as former Assemblyman Elihu Harris, former state Sen. Diane Watson, and E. Dotson Wilson, chief clerk of the Assembly.

The hour-long program airs Sunday at 6 p.m. on KVIE.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

Editor’s note: This post has been changed to reflect that Rumford began his Assembly service in 1949.

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