Fullerton College: A Pictorial History

There were relatively few African Americans in Orange County during the 1930s and 1940s, but they were welcomed at FJC, as were all minority groups. In 1936, Thomas L. Berkley (1915-2001) was elected captain of the basketball team (center row, second from left). A political science major, Berkley transferred to UCLA, where he graduated in 1938. He attended both Boalt Hall and Hastings School of Law, receiving a Doctorate of Law degree in 1942. He served in the Army during World War II and attained the rank of second lieutenant. He resumed his law practice after his discharge and also became part owner and publisher of the Oakland Post and El Mundo, as well as co-founder of the West Coast Black Publishers Association. As a staunch supporter of civil rights and housing opportunities, Berkley developed Berkley Square in 1955, a 250-house racially integrated housing track in Las Vegas, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1967, he was appointed to the Oakland Board of Education, and also served 11 years as a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Port of Oakland, and two terms as its President. He was the nation's first African-American to serve as a commissioner of a major port.