From her segregated hometown to the halls of Congress, Barbara Lee has never stopped fighting for what’s right. As a teenager in San Fernando High School, when Black girls couldn’t be cheerleaders, she joined forces with the NAACP and became her high school’s first Black cheerleader. She was one of the first Black women to rise up to a senior position on Capitol Hill as chief of staff for legendary Congressman Ron Dellums and was the first African American woman elected to the State Assembly and Senate from Northern California. A champion for justice in the Legislature, Barbara wrote California’s first Violence Against Women Act to ensure protections for victims of domestic violence and authored the California Schools Hate Crimes Reduction Act to protect all students – regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation – from hate crimes.
In 1998, Barbara became the first woman elected to Congress from her district, where she’s been fighting discrimination, poverty, and for the rights of all. In Congress, she made ending HIV and ensuring an AIDS-free generation a priority, spearheading nearly every major piece of HIV/AIDS legislation and working with then-President Bush to secure $15 billion in funding to address the epidemic. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, Barbara introduced the landmark Marijuana Justice Act to reform unjust marijuana laws and address their disproportionate impact on people of color. And, when every other member of Congress wouldn’t, Barbara cast the sole no vote against giving the president unlimited war powers after 9/11.
Barbara understands our struggles because she’s lived them. She escaped an abusive marriage. As a single mother raising two sons, she received public assistance while building a better life for her family. While earning her degree, she brought her kids to class with her because she couldn’t afford childcare, and as a teenager, she risked her life having a back-alley abortion when abortion was illegal. These experiences have made Barbara who she is and shaped her career as one of Congress’s most outspoken champions of justice and advocates for the underserved.
And as Barbara likes to say, representation matters. Since 1789, when Congress first convened, there have only been two Black women senators – and they served a total tenure of 10 years out of nearly 240 years of our nation’s history. If elected, Barbara will be the only Black woman in the U.S. Senate and the only Black senator from California, bringing a much-needed voice to policymaking in DC.
Now, Barbara’s running for Senate because it’s time to find real solutions to homelessness, lift people out of poverty, protect our Democracy and human rights, and take on the climate crisis. She’ll keep fighting for our progressive values and delivering real results, and she’ll never back down from doing what’s right. Just like she always has.
That’s why people across California and the nation say, Barbara Lee Speaks for Me. Barbara Lee for U.S. Senate.