6th Annual California Hall of Fame
December 8, 2011
Born in 1900 to Irish immigrants and raised in the rough-and-ready mining town of Park City, Utah, Traynor knew the meaning of a hard day’s work. He also discovered a love for learning. With $500 and unbridled enthusiasm, he arrived at the University of California at Berkeley. It was there he earned his PhD in political science and his law degree – both in the same year, 1927. He became an inspiring professor and started the first course on taxation at UC Berkeley’s law school.
The State of California reached out to him to help creating a system for collecting the newly-enacted sales tax. Other states modeled their systems after the efficiency of Traynor’s. Later the state called again, when he was appointed to the California Supreme Court as an Associate Justice. In 1964 Governor Edmund G. Brown, Sr. named him Chief Justice.
Traynor served the Supreme Court for 30 years during a time of extreme transition. Our state was growing in population and diversity, and he had the vision to transform and modernize the law to meet the needs of a changing society. Traynor saw a solution of justice in every situation and did so with humanity, eloquence and integrity. In 1948, his opinion struck down the law prohibiting interracial marriage – a first for any state Supreme Court. He created an area of law now known as products liability, another legal first. A champion of people’s rights, he is regarded by many to be the greatest judge in the history of California and one of the most esteemed justices in America.
The State of California honors Justice Roger Traynor, who established judicial standards with scholarly prowess and careful wisdom.
Magic Johnson read by Mayor Kevin Johnson
Magic Johnson dazzled us on the courts. He is a legend whose show-stopping basketball skill is matched only by his generosity and unstoppable goal to help others.
Often called the greatest point guard in history, he was the Lakers’ first pick in the 1979 NBA draft. His rookie season garnered him the first of five NBA championships and the first of three MVP awards. His athletic accomplishments are renowned. During his 12 years with the L.A. Lakers, he averaged 19.7 points per game. They had to devise a new term just for him – the “triple double” –because he so often achieved double digit rebounds, steals and assists in one game. Magic is an Olympic gold medalist, a two-time Hall of Famer and a 12-time All-Star.
Johnson stunned the country in 1991 when he announced that he was HIV positive and immediately retired from the NBA. Twenty years later, he is still going strong and raising HIV/AIDS awareness through his Magic Johnson Foundation. His Foundation also focuses on scholarship and community empowerment.
If all of that is not enough, he created Magic Johnson Enterprises, which revitalizes underserved and ethnically diverse communities through corporate partnerships. Ever think of building a Starbucks in an underserved community? Magic has! What’s he working on right now? He has a plan to build a new stadium and bring back an NFL team to Los Angeles.
The State of California honors Earvin “Magic” Johnson, a true champion on the courts, in the community, and in our hearts.
FATHER GREGORY BOYLE read by Magic Johnson
California is a land of opportunity. But if you are a kid growing up in a gang-infested neighborhood in Los Angeles, those opportunities are dimly lit. Father Gregory Boyle has brought a light of hope to these neighborhoods and for many, the promise for a better life.
Father Boyle – or “G,” as he is known to his homies – was born and raised in Los Angeles. He was one of eight children and grew up working alongside his siblings at their family-owned dairy. He had a calling, and in 1984, was ordained a priest. He served in Bolivia, Mexico and Folsom Prison before becoming pastor of Dolores Mission in East LA. Located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood, the parish has the most gang violence of any place in the country.
In 1992, riots erupted in Los Angeles. When others were giving up on this part of the city, Father Boyle saw hope in the ravaged streets and started Homeboy Bakery. Well beyond a job training program, it provides an environment where rival gang members work side by side. The energy of destruction that took away so much was now being channeled into production and the rebuilding of lives and neighborhoods. The response to Homeboy Bakery underscored the overwhelming desire of so many lost souls to escape the hopelessness of gang life. They just needed a chance.
Homeboy Bakery evolved into Homeboy Industries, which now includes the Homeboy Diner, Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery, and Homegirl Café & Catering. The success of these inner-city enterprises has made Homeboy Industries the largest gang intervention and re-entry program in the country. Universities, criminal justice workers, employers and even the White House seek out Father Boyle to speak and give advice on gang prevention.
The State of California honors Father Gregory Boyle, who proved to us all that the inner city is filled with promise and people worth caring for.
ED ROBERTS read by Father Gregory Boyle
Ed Roberts was paralyzed from the neck down when he was 14. Doctors, educators and society gave up on him. But Ed Roberts didn’t give up, and he surprised them all.
In the 1950’s, people with severe disabilities were not welcomed.
There were no ramps to doorways for people in wheelchairs. There
were no channels for education, job training or political
protection. Society saw people with disabilities as incapable of
making decisions for themselves.
In the 1960’s, when Roberts entered UC Berkeley, little had changed – he even had to fight to gain admission. A professor told him education would be wasted on someone like him. Roberts responded by earning a master’s degree and founded the first student–led disability program on any university campus.
Roberts also created the world’s first Center for Independent Living. This center allows people with disabilities to control their own lives by providing support services and training opportunities. There are now over a thousand centers like it.
In 1976, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. appointed Roberts Director of the Department of Rehabilitation, the same agency that once denied him services because they deemed him too disabled to work. Roberts married and had a child. He went whitewater rafting and swam with dolphins. He showed the world that disability did not have to be a restriction.
In 1983, Roberts co-founded the World Institute on Disability. Wheelchair bound, but in no way bound to it, he travelled the world to help people with disabilities. His life’s mission was to ensure that people in every corner of the world have the chance to live an independent life.
There is one thing Roberts brought us that each of uses every day – do you know what it is? The curb cuts found on every street corner in America, even in East LA!
The State of California honors Ed Roberts, who raised the value of our humanity and convinced us all to never give up.
AMY TAN read by Lisa Ling
Amy Tan is a California native, born in Oakland. Her parents were immigrants from China, who came to here to live the American dream. Amy’s mom dreamt her daughter would become a doctor and a concert pianist. But Amy had other ideas, and she wrote them down for us to enjoy.
When Tan writes, wonderful things happen. Her first novel, The Joy Luck Club, became a sensation. It was made into a movie that she co-wrote and co-produced. She has written five NY Times best sellers. There is a quiet brilliance in her fiction that has caught the attention of educators. Open a high school textbook, and you are likely to see one of her essays or stories. Sign up for an American Lit class in college, and you could find the name Tan alongside Hemmingway and Steinbeck as required reading. Turn on PBS and you might find Sagwa, the Emmy-nominated children’s TV series based on her book.
Tan’s stories often pivot around Chinese culture as viewed through American lenses, but take a closer look and her stories go further than East vs. West. They deal with universal themes of youth and death, wealth and poverty, traditional and contemporary, parent and child.
Amy Tan can work the stage as well. She has performed as narrator with the San Francisco Symphony and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Her short story “Immortal Heart” was performed on stages in the U.S. and France. She wrote the libretto for The Bonesetter’s Daughter opera and she’s in a rock band. You heard that right. Amy Tan, along with other notable authors such as Stephen King, Dave Barry and Scott Turow, make up the band, the Rock Bottom Remainders, and their yearly rock concerts have raised over a million dollars for literacy programs.
The State of California honors Amy Tan, whose literary gifts have delighted our senses and enriched our culture.
BUZZ ALDRIN read by Amy Tan
If Buzz Aldrin had been born 500 years ago, he might have sailed around the world for the first time. If he had been born 200 years ago, he might have been the one to discover the South Pole. So what does a pioneer do when he’s born in the 20th century? Buzz Aldrin walks on the moon.
If you were alive in 1969, you were only one place on July 20th.
You were huddled around a television, probably black and white.
You probably held your breath and sat frozen as you watched the
lunar module gracefully descend. And then you heard those famous
words, “the Eagle has landed,” and the silence was broken with
cheers that could be heard in every living room across the land.
That’s when Apollo 11 touched the moon’s surface. That’s when
Buzz Aldrin joined his fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong for the
most famous walk in history.
But there is more to this amazing pioneer than his lunar voyage. Aldrin is a world-class hero who graduated from West Point and flew 66 combat missions in Korea. He is a world-class inventor who developed techniques our space program needed to get to the moon. He performed the first successful spacewalk 3 years prior to his lunar landing and is the first PhD we sent into space. Apart from being an astronaut and scientist – giving me a run for the money — as the author of seven NY Times Best-Sellers. He has even been the inspiration for our friends at Pixar.
For a man who flew into the heavens, it seems only fitting that he resides in our own City of Angels. There he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His ideas continue to fly forward on an unstoppable trajectory.
The State of California honors Buzz Aldrin, an explorer whose epic accomplishments inspire us all to dream big and reach for the stars.
DR. ELIZABETH BLACKBURN read by Buzz Aldrin
For as long as humans can remember, we’ve been racing against the clock of aging, racing to cure diseases, racing to eliminate cancer. Because of Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, we’ve got a leg up on the race, and we might get to the finish line sooner than we thought.
Born in Tasmania, Dr. Blackburn is a superstar molecular biologist. She came to our Golden State in 1978 to teach and conduct her research; first at the University of California, Berkeley; later, across the bay at UC San Francisco, where she currently serves. While working at UC Berkeley, Dr. Blackburn and a student in her lab discovered chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.
To understand the magnitude of this discovery we must size-down
to the microscopic level, into the structure of our cells. There
we will find our DNA. What scientists didn’t know until Dr.
Blackburn was that the only thing that kept our genetic code from
unraveling like frayed rope, were telomeres. Telomeres are end
caps; guardians if you please, that protect our genetic
It was like finding the master key to all the locks in the building. The proverbial light bulb switched on in laboratories all over the world. Now research scientists have an angle, a known entity that can be used as an ally in the fight against cancer, disease, aging, blindness. The list of possible cures is endless.
In 2007 Dr. Blackburn became one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People,” and in 2009, she was awarded a Nobel Prize. Only forty women have ever won a Nobel Prize. We are proud to say Dr. Blackburn is one of these women and she calls California home.
The State of California honors Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, whose brilliant discoveries have inspired a gold rush of scientific progress and hope.
DORIS & DONALD FISHER read by First Lady Anne Brown
1969 was a very important year for our inductees. While Buzz was walking on the moon, the Fishers were revolutionizing the retail industry by opening the first Gap store.
The Fishers were long-time family friends. Doris went to Stanford and became one of the first women to graduate with a degree in Economics. Donald went to UC Berkeley and was a star athlete in swimming and water polo. In 1958 they got married and lived in San Francisco.
Inspired by a futile search for the right size Levi’s jeans, Doris and Don opened a store in San Francisco, selling jeans and records. They delivered a shopping experience that was fun and the company grew into a global brand. Today, their company also includes Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta.
With the proceeds from Gap, Inc., they started the Gap Foundation in 1977 so they could support their other loves: arts, education and the community.
One of their successes is expanding the free, college-preparatory KIPP schools. These charter schools are based in the poorest neighborhoods, giving disadvantaged kids a real shot at going to college. In fact 85% of all KIPP students go to college.
Leading contemporary art collectors, the Fishers acquired some 1,100 pieces that will be permanently housed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for the public to enjoy.
Donald Fisher, who passed away in 2009, lived his life with an important principle; to love the work you do. He and his beloved wife Doris are known around the world for being in the business of improving lives of those they reach- through their business, civic and nonprofit commitments.
The State of California honors Doris and Donald Fisher, whose passion for quality in education, art, and a good pair of jeans make them a true success story.
THE BEACH BOYS read by Russ Solomon
If California had a theme song, it would have been written by the
No musical group has ever painted a more inviting picture of a state than the Beach Boys did for us. Their songs invoke images of sand, surfing, bikinis and the smell of suntan oil. The California dream was playing on the radio and the world couldn’t wait to join the party.
The original group of five was made up of three Wilson brothers, Brian, Dennis and Carl, their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine. When Jardine left to finish his studies, the Wilsons’ 13-year-old neighbor, David Marks, came on board. All were local boys from Southern California, where a day at the beach was the status quo. This was 1961 and Rock and Roll was just cutting its teeth. Mike had a knack for vocalization and lyrics, and was influenced by the Motown sounds of R & B and doo-wop. Brian saw new ways to work with harmonization and chord progression. The synergy of these sounds produced the foundation for their unique musical style that skyrocketed upward and has never really come down.
Let me take you back to December 1963 — picture five young men recording the first-ever live rock concert — here, on Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium stage. That group of five young men was the Beach Boys, and that album they recorded was their first to reach number one on the charts. That is when I remember meeting them, in fact, I sold tickets to the concert.
Since then no other American band has had more Top 40 hits than The Beach Boys. At their height, they challenged the Beatles for popular and critical acclaim. Their many honors include membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Fifty years later, their songs are still popular with generations old and new.
The State of California honors The Beach Boys for their musical legacy that put California at the top of the charts.
CARLOS SANTANA read by Clint Eastwood
Delivered with a level of passion and soul equal to the sonic charge of his guitar, the sound of Carlos Santana is one of the world’s best know musical signatures. His unique fingerprint on the sound of rock and roll guitar is unmistakable, and it has charmed us for over forty years.
The genesis of his music was born in the late 60s, when the music scene in San Francisco was just getting started. Santana played from his heart. The sound that came out was flavored with jazz, blues, rock and Latino elements. Together, they blended into something new. He created a world sound, before there was such a thing as “world music.” Santana brought his sound to Woodstock in 1969. That same year, “Evil Ways” became his first hit. Santana’s albums and Billboard’s Top 10 list got well acquainted over the next few decades. Only two musical artists have ever had a Top 10 album in every decade since the 1960’s. The Rolling Stones is one. Carlos Santana is the other.
Santana has won 10 Grammy Awards, sold over 90 million records and played to over 100 million fans in world-tour concerts. He is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Rolling Stone magazine ranks him in both the top “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”
But to share his musical achievements would be only part of what makes Santana so great. He is a humanitarian and a philanthropist. His dedication to improving the lives of children in need prompted him to start The Milagro Foundation. Children are miracles, according to Santana, the very meaning of Milagro. Through this foundation, disadvantaged children all over the globe are provided opportunities in education, health and art.
The State of California honors Carlos Santana who transformed the world of music with his guitar and is making miracles happen for children around the world.