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Congresswoman Barbara Lee announces historic campaign for U.S. Senate

After serving Californians in the State Legislature and Congress, the Bay Area progressive champion officially announces her run for the U.S. Senate

OAKLAND, CA — Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee announced her campaign for U.S. Senate to fill the seat of retiring Senator Dianne Feinstein in a video released this morning. 

In the video, Lee, a 13-term Congresswoman and former state Assemblywoman and state Senator who has earned icon-status as a fighter for justice and a progressive champion, discusses her long list of accomplishments and her childhood growing up under America’s Jim Crow Laws.

“To do nothing has never been an option for me. When my high school said cheerleaders couldn’t be Black, I took them on. I worked with the NAACP, and earned my spot as the school’s first black cheerleader,” Lee said in the video.  “When there weren’t protections for survivors of domestic violence, I wrote California’s first Violence Against Women Act. When it was legal to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community, I wrote the Hate Crimes Reduction Act…I don’t quit. I don’t give up. That’s not in my DNA…When you stand on the side of justice, you don’t quit if they don’t give you a seat at the table. You bring a folding chair for everyone, and they are here to stay.”

While in the State Legislature, Lee wrote and passed California’s first Violence Against Women Act to ensure protections for survivors of domestic violence and she passed the California Schools Hate Crimes Reduction Act to protect all students – regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation – from hate crimes. In Congress, Lee made ending poverty and HIV/AIDS a priority. In a defining moment that received national attention, Lee cast the sole vote against giving then-President Bush or any future President unlimited war powers after September 11.

“I’m running for US Senate because Californians deserve a strong, progressive leader who has accomplished real things and delivered real change. That’s what I’ve done my entire career in public service, and it’s what I’ll do in the Senate. Californians have my word that, whether it’s the climate crisis, solutions to homelessness, lifting people out of poverty, easing the burden on the middle class, protecting our Democracy, standing up for reproductive freedom, or ensuring our civil and human rights, I will never back down from fighting for what’s right,” Lee said in a statement.

“Since the first Congress went into session in 1789, there have been two black women serving a total of 10 years in the U.S. Senate. Representation matters. I promise to use my voice and lived experience to bring a much-needed perspective to the Senate and deliver real change for everyone.”

A barrier-breaker, Lee was the first Black woman elected to the State Assembly, State Senate, and Congress from Northern California. She is the first African American member to serve as Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) and, as Co-Chair of the Policy and Steering Committee, is the highest-ranking appointed Black woman in Democratic leadership.