Augustus Freeman “Gus” Hawkins (August 31, 1907 – November 10, 2007) was a prominent American Democratic Party politician and a figure in the history of Civil Rights and organized labor. He served as the first African American from California in the United States Congress. Over the course of his career, Hawkins authored more than 300 state and federal laws, the most famous of which are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964and the 1978 Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act. He was known as the “silent warrior” for his commitment to education and ending unemployment. Hawkins emphasized throughout his career that “the leadership belongs not to the loudest, not to those who beat the drums or blow the trumpets, but to those who day in and day out, in all seasons, work for the practical realization of a better world—those who have the stamina to persist and remain dedicated.” Hawkins remained devoted to this principle throughout his life, dedicating himself to meaningful reforms rather than rhetoric.
Hawkins was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and in 1918 the family moved to Los Angeles.