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Do California politicians’ yearbooks harbor secrets? Nah. But dorkiness?

After Virginia’s governor fumbled last month to explain the disgraceful racist photos on his college yearbook page, it raised the question: Could our own politicians’ yearbooks harbor secrets too?
A USA Today review last month around the country of 900 college yearbooks from the 1970s and 1980s found some 200 photos of students mugging in blackface, wearing KKK hoods or performing mock lynchings — although none were linked to politicians.
CLICK HERE if you are having trouble seeing the yearbook photo gallery on your mobile device.
But the worst offenses the Bay Area News Group found after weeks of hunting for the high school and college yearbooks of California’s prominent politicians were crimes of fashion. Just a host of benign embarrassments — and confirmation that, yes, the folks running your government were as dorky as you were at that age!
California’s buttoned-down Attorney General Xavier Becerra had a thing for disco shirts and bell-bottoms. U.S. Rep. Susan “Zoe” Lofgren devoted her time to “being herself,” scorned snobbery and mused about Russian field trips, yak fat sandwiches, loud music, pessimists and Fender guitars. And Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf turned up in the 1983 Skyline High School yearbook with pom-poms in one photo — and, what the heck … white pancake makeup in another?
“It was mime makeup,” explained Schaaf, referring to what covered her face in an homage to “Bye Bye Life” from the film “All That Jazz.”
Libby Schaaf poses for a yearbook advertisement congratulating the 1984 senior cheer squad in Skyline High School’s 1983 yearbook. (Courtesy of Skyline High School) 
The mayor also is all smiles posing with fellow cheerleaders in a photo that offers “Congratulations to the 83-84 cheering squad love, Kookie, Libby and Pookie.”
“I don’t think it’s an accident that many politicians are former cheerleaders,” mused Schaaf, who also served as a yearbook editor. “As politicians, we have to be optimists and boosters for the places we represent.”
We couldn’t even find California Gov. Gavin Newsom in the yearbooks at Santa Clara University, where he graduated in 1989 and played a little baseball in his early years. At Redwood High in Larkspur, his photos show a transformation for the budding basketball and baseball standout.
(L) Gavin Newsom in a portrait after being voted “Most Stylish” for the senior superlatives section of Redwood High School’s 1985 LOG yearbook. (R) Newsom in his freshman year portrait in 1982. (Courtesy of Anne T. Kent California Room, Marin County Free Library, Tamalpais Union High School District) 

The dashing fellow dubbed “Mayor McHottie” when he ran San Francisco wasn’t always so — in his early high school years, Newsom wore his teenage mop in a shape that reminds you of the batting helmet he wore on the ball team. But by his senior year, he was among two students voted “most stylish,” photographed reading a newspaper sporting a plaid scarf with his floppy hair fashionably parted.
Sen. Kamala Harris graduated from a high school in Montreal in 1981, gushing about “dancing with super six,” thanking her mother and telling her sister to “be cool.” She’s now running for president.
California’s senior U.S. senator, Dianne Feinstein, is credited in San Francisco’s Convent of the Sacred Heart High School 1948 yearbook — she was Dianne Goldman then — as a photographer and scribe. She researched, photographed and wrote by hand — in calligraphy — an account of architectural elements in the Flood Mansion on the school’s campus.
Dianne Goldman, now Sen. Dianne Feinstein, in a senior portrait from the 1951 Convent of the Sacred Heart High School. (Courtesy of Convent of the Sacred Heart High School) 
San Jose’s Mayor Sam Liccardo wasn’t keen on revisiting his Bellarmine College Preparatory yearbooks.
“If you saw my face filled with braces,” Liccardo said, “you’d understand.”
At least he’d shed the braces by the time he graduated from Georgetown University in 1991.
Richmond Mayor Tom Butt says there are only traditional class photos in his yearbook at Fayetteville High School in Arkansas, and he proclaimed emphatically: “I have never done blackface!”
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 12: Photo of Xavier Becerra, left, with golf club members from the 1976 senior yearbook at C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Courtesy of C.K. McClatchy High School) 
In Virginia, the attorney general confessed to appearing in blackface at a party in 1980. Our attorney general has nothing like that to apologize for. But as a senior at Sacramento’s McClatchy High in 1976, Becerra was certainly a victim of that decade’s dreadful fashions — in a photo of him with the golf team, he looks like a roadie for Led Zeppelin.
There’s East Bay Democratic congressman and possible presidential candidate Eric Swalwell, Dublin High, Class of 1999, showing off his forehand in his tennis whites, and staring down strikers as The Gael’s varsity soccer goalie. And his senior class photo: bow-tie, moussed blond hair and almost-Trumpian tan.
Senior Eric Swalwell, now Rep. Eric Swalwell, in a senior portrait from the 1999 Dublin High School yearbook.(Courtesy of Dublin High School/Pro Image Studio) 
Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, is known on Capitol Hill for championing environmental causes. At William Chrisman High School in Independence, Missouri, (home of Harry Truman), Huffman’s peers named him one of the school’s two “class clowns.”
For some, it wasn’t just about frivolity.
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, who grew up in a military family and attended high school in Los Angeles in the early 1960s, has earned a reputation in Congress as a liberal voice on weighty social and foreign policy issues. Many know her as the only Congress member to vote against authorizing a military response in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
R: Senior Barbara Tutt, now Rep. Barbara Lee, in a series of individual portraits from the 1964 San Fernando High School yearbook. (Courtesy of San Fernando High School) 
So a high school yearbook photo of her posing with pom-poms might seem a little out of character. But Lee said it represented her victory in integrating the cheer squad by fighting along with the NAACP to change the selection process to an election. She became San Fernando High School’s first black cheerleader.
“Really, that was my first election,” Lee said. “Fighting discrimination and for equality continues to be my life’s work.”

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