COMMUNITY ACTIVIST REFUSES TO GIVE UP FIGHTING SPIRIT.Byline: VICTORIA GIRAUD
Community activist Louis Brathwaite, a member of Santa Clarita's Planning Commission Noun 1. planning commission - a commission delegated to propose plans for future activities and developments
commission, committee - a special group delegated to consider some matter; "a committee is a group that keeps minutes and loses hours" - Milton Berle ``from Day One,'' acknowledges that he's a troublemaker, or even a bit of a rabble-rouser.
``You might say that,'' Brathwaite laughs as he reflects on 30 years working as a civilian for the Air Force and Navy in aerospace - which included years serving as an equal employment opportunity (EEO EEO Equal Employment Opportunity
EEO Equal Employment Office
EEO Eastern European Outreach (Murrieta, CA)
EEO Extremely Elliptical Orbit
EEO Exotic Electro-Optics, Inc. ) officer - or his nearly 30 years of community service in Santa Clarita Santa Clarita, city (1990 pop. 110,642), Los Angeles co., S Calif., suburb 30 mi (48 km) NW of downtown Los Angeles, on the Santa Clara River; inc. 1987. Situated in the Santa Clara valley and nearby canyons, Santa Clarita includes the former towns of Canyon Country, .
When Brathwaite was first asked to become the EEO officer, he said he ``reluctantly took the job. I was already a troublemaker.'' But he was wary of ``getting after the boss for not doing his job.''
Taking his position seriously, Brathwaite found that government promotions were handled by selection panels consisting of white men in senior positions, the ``good ol' buddy'' system, so ``no women or minorities were selected.''
``I combated it and was successful in getting women and minorities on the selection panels,'' Brathwaite remembers of those years. ``I got women in positions that before were unheard of Not heard of; of which there are no tidings.
Unknown to fame; obscure.
See also: Unheard Unheard .''
Because of his success with equal opportunity, in the early '70s, Brathwaite was asked to speak to an early NOW, or National Organization for Women, meeting in Van Nuys. He was also active in and gave talks on rights of women who worked for the federal government.
Recently, he found and read one of his old speeches. ``I talked upward mobility upward mobility
The state of being upwardly mobile.
movement from a lower to a higher economic and social status , and how women treat each other. Women can be their own worst enemy,'' Brathwaite pointed out. ``Women are still being denied. Nothing much has changed,'' he lamented.
Brathwaite grew up in a ethnically mixed neighborhood in New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. , learning early on that to escape being a gang member or a victim, he had to be ``crazy.'' ``They'd (gang members) want to beat me up after school; I'd jump on them in school,'' he remembered. His defensive tactics got him in trouble with school officials, but he escaped harassment outside school.
Because of his combative reputation, an early love for music and art was sidelined in favor of attending the Manhattan High School Manhattan High School is a public high school (grades 9-12) in Manhattan, Riley County, Kansas. It is part of Kansas Unified School District #383. The school is divided into two campuses. of Aviation. ``I wasn't the kind of kid they wanted in their music school.''
As an African-American, Brathwaite had his own career challenges, which he is writing about in a book, tentatively titled ``Black Man's Job, White Man's Job.'' When he landed a plum job at a flight research center, a fellow worker told him, ``This is a white man's job,'' Stifling his anger, Brathwaite replied, ``No, this is a black man's job.''
``Many jobs I had were firsts during my career. It became a sticky thing. I was the only one. A supervisor would say, `You're just not right for the job. I wouldn't have hired you,' '' Brathwaite reminisced. ``Every time you go someplace some·place
adv. & n.
Somewhere: "I didn't care where I was from so long as it was someplace else" Garrison Keillor. See Usage Note at everyplace. , you'd have to prove yourself. I got a little tired of it.''
During his long career, Brathwaite received 16 outstanding performance ratings See benchmark. , and a special medal was awarded to him when he retired in 1990.
His rabble-rousing extends to the people of Santa Clarita, where he is on the city Planning city planning, process of planning for the improvement of urban centers in order to provide healthy and safe living conditions, efficient transport and communication, adequate public facilities, and aesthetic surroundings. Commission and known for holding his ground on issues.
An active member of the community since he moved here with his family in 1970, Brathwaite has served on the board of the William S. Hart Union High School district, the Boys & Girls Club Girls Club is a 2002 American television series created by David E. Kelley, who was also it's producer and executive producer. Only two out of a total of thirteen episodes created were broadcast on Fox Television in the United States and Global Television in Canada. board and the Committee on Aging. He helped found the Federation of Homeowner Associations in the 1970s, which he laughingly says, ``scared the life out of the (county) supervisors.''
Over the years, he's turned a talent for architecture and design into designing houses and churches. He even got the Department of Building and Safety sending him clients who couldn't afford expensive architects.
With the head of one committee, Brathwaite put his talents to work to design the proposed Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center A performing arts center, often abbreviated PAC, is a multi-use performance space that can be adapted for use by various types of the performing arts, including dance, music and theatre. a few years ago. This formidable task resulted in a 100-page book with about 50 drawings. ``I spent a year working on it. I wrote the text and did the renderings and drawings.''
Since retirement, this father of three has kept busy. Brathwaite has ``found more time to do more stuff. I would not sit home and watch TV.'' Though he and his wife, Mary, who is president of the Monte Verde Claridge (homeowners) Association, briefly considered moving, they realized they were happily ``locked into our neighborhood'' and their activities.
Brathwaite's future goals include finishing his book and looking forward to his wife's retirement. ``We enjoy doing what we're doing,'' he says with satisfaction.
Photo: (color in SAC edition only) Louis Brathwaite has given Santa Clarita nearly 30 years of community service.
Shaun Dyer/Special to the Daily News