SACRAMENTO – African Americans continue to make significant contributions that benefit and uplift the state of California. Governor Gavin Newsom and wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom joined the California Museum in inducting the 13th class of icons who embody the state’s spirit of innovation and achievement into the California Hall of Fame in a special ceremony last week. Three African Americans were among those being honored– legendary poet Dr. Maya Angelou, who was recognized posthumously; television personality and author RuPaul Charles; and civil rights leader Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr.

California Hall of Fame Inductees Maya Angelou, Rupaul

“California is a state not just of dreamers, but of doers who pride themselves on being on the leading edge,” Gov. Newsom said.

 “That entrepreneurial spirit and the incredible diversity, daring and perseverance of our beloved state is demonstrated in the lives and the journeys of those honored tonight,” he continued.

Other inductees included Olympic medalist Brandi Chastain; astrophysicist Dr. France A. Córdova; skateboarder-philanthropist Tony Hawk; author and activist Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston; actor and comedian George Lopez; world renowned chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck; and vintner Helen M. Turley.

The California Hall of Fame was established in 2006 to honor legendary people who have made their mark on history through achievements across a variety of fields, including the arts, education, business and labor, science, sports, philanthropy and public service. 

Inductees were presented with “Spirit of California” medals by the Governor and First Partner in an official ceremony held at the California Museum. In addition, the lives and legacies of the new inductees will be featured in an all-new artifact exhibit at the California Museum. 

Previous honorees include music icon Quincy Jones, tennis champion Serena Williams basketball greats Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and “The Color Purple” author Alice Walker.

Inductees are selected by the governor, but nominations are welcome from the public to assist in developing a “comprehensive list of suitable candidates.” Nominations can be made online at