Meet Barbara

Barbara Lee is a progressive champion who does what’s right – not what’s easy.

Congresswoman Lee has spent her life taking on the tough fights: as the first Black girl to become a cheerleader at her high school; in the state legislature, authoring California’s first Violence Against Women Act and fighting for abortion access for all Californians; and as a leader in Congress, passing historic HIV/AIDS legislation that has saved millions of lives, and casting the sole vote against giving President Bush, and all future presidents, unlimited war powers after September 11th.

She’s ready to take that fight to the Senate and be the champion Californians need. In the history of the United States, there have only been three Black women ever elected to the U.S. Senate — Barbara Lee could be one of the next.

Barbara Lee became her high school’s first Black cheerleader.

Born in segregated El Paso, Texas, Congresswoman Lee moved to San Fernando, California, for middle school and worked with the local NAACP to integrate her high school cheerleading squad. In college, after working as an organizer for the Black Panthers, Lee registered to vote for the first time and worked on Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s historic presidential campaign. 

She received her Masters of Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley, and went on to found the Community Health Alliance for Neighborhood Growth and Education (CHANGE, Inc.) which provided mental health services to the East Bay’s most vulnerable individuals.

Barbara fights for progressive change and economic justice because she knows what it is to struggle. 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 an illegal abortion. 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.

Barbara Lee became the first woman elected to Congress from her district in 1998.

Congresswoman Lee is the highest-ranking Black woman appointed to House Leadership, and was the first Black woman from Northern California to be elected to the California State Assembly and the state Senate.

She has been ranked the most effective member of Congress on issues of foreign policy, and continues to be a fierce advocate for universal healthcare, voting rights, ambitious climate change policy, and an economy that works for working people.

Barbara understands our struggles because she’s lived them.

She has fought tirelessly for working families and communities of color, focusing on the shrinking middle class, working to expand SNAP benefits, invest in child care, make the Child Tax Credit permanent, and advance legislation to lift millions of American families out of poverty. 

In 2005, Lee was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her work to promote peace around the world. Today, she is the only California candidate for the U.S. Senate to call for an immediate, sustained ceasefire in Gaza and demand President Biden seek congressional approval for global weapons transfers and the Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF).

A tenacious advocate for upholding democracy and protecting freedom, she currently serves as the lead plaintiff in the NAACP civil lawsuit against former president Donald Trump for damages related to the attempted coup of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.