Julian Carey Dixon
Representative Julian C. Dixon, who served the West Los Angeles District for twenty-two years in Congress, left a legacy as a supporting legislator on CIVIL RIGHTS and national security matters. He is also remembered for the differences he made in California and in the District of Columbia in his various roles serving in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Julian Carey Dixon was born in Washington, D.C., in 1934. He moved to Los Angeles, California, with his family at the age of ten. He grew up and attended public school in Los Angeles. In 1957 he left to serve in the Army, returning in 1960 to receive his degree from California State University in 1962. Dixon then went on to earn his law degree from Southwestern State University in Los Angeles in 1967.
Dixon spent only a few years in the private PRACTICE OF LAW before entering a life devoted to politics and public service. In 1972 he was elected to the California State Assembly, where he served for six years. In 1978 he was elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served his constituents in the 32nd District of California for twenty-two more years in the House.
Throughout his career, Julian Dixon was a strong advocate for civil rights causes. During the 1980s he was chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. He also created a MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. memorial in Washington, D.C. The Human Rights Campaign, this nation's largest lesbian and gay political organization, views Dixon as an advocate for their cause, citing his introduction of the $8.6 billion relief bill after the 1994 earthquake in Los Angeles. The bill, for the first time ever in a federal law, specifically outlawed discrimination of disaster victims on the grounds of sexual orientation. Dixon was also co-sponsor of bills which sought to reduce discrimination against minority groups, including the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
From the beginning of his career on Capitol Hill, Dixon earned the respect of his peers and served as chairman of several committees. In 1984 he was Rules Committee chairman of the Democratic Convention. He also served as chairman of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, better known as the Ethics Committee. This position proved to be Dixon's most challenging position, particularly in 1989 when then-House Speaker JIM WRIGHT a Democrat from Texas, was being investigated for ethics violations. Georgia Republican NEWT GINGRICH backed the Republicans in their attacks against the speaker, which predictably sparked a defensive tone from Democrats. As chairman of the Ethics Committee, Dixon emerged as a bi-partisan leader who focused on the facts and the true issues presented. In June 1989, Wright resigned. As a result of his leadership in this episode, Dixon was commended by members of both sides of the House for his fairness and judgment.
More recently, Dixon was ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Additionally, he served on a panel to determine defense spending. Here, he fought on behalf of his constituents for the appropriation of funds to aid southern California communities hurt by base closings and defense budget cuts.
Dixon was also a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and, during the mid-1990s, chaired the Washington, D.C., subcommittee where he was able to make a difference in the city of his birth by focusing on public safety and education. During his leadership of the subcommittee, Congress began a crackdown on the scandal-ridden administration of Mayor Marion Barry, leading the way for a federal takeover of the finances for Washington, D.C. Because of his efforts in Washington, Dixon is still heralded by the leadership of Capitol Hill and the citizens of the city.
Dixon is, of course, highly regarded and remembered by his own constituents in western Los Angeles. He always came through with aid in times of emergency. In 1992 the streets of Los Angeles were rocked as buildings were broken into, looted, and burned after a verdict of "not guilty" was issued in the trial of two white police officers who beat motorist RODNEY KING in a highly-broadcast, videotaped incident. Dixon acquired emergency funds for the businesses of Los Angeles that suffered in the riots. He also came to the aid of his city after the 1994 North-ridge earthquake.
Perhaps his most lasting contribution to the Los Angeles community, however, was the effort he put into establishing the MTA, the commuter rail system in Los Angeles. Dixon was well aware that the city needed a solution to its major traffic problems, and high-speed public transportation seemed to be a good answer. The city and MTA recognized his efforts; they renamed one of the busiest rail stations the "Julian Dixon Metro Rail Station." Dixon was so highly revered by his constituents that he won re-election in the November 2000 election with 84 percent of the vote. He died one month later, on December 8, 2000, at the age of 66 in Ingle-wood, California.