Congresswoman Barbara Lee

On Her Commitment to the 13th District 

By Sabrina Sellers


The 13th congressional district of California is dutifully represented by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who has been an integral part of the Bay Area’s social and political movements since her days as an undergraduate at Mills College and graduate student at UC Berkeley. Along with fighting for the interests of the diverse residents of the East Bay, one of Lee’s most notable moments was as the lone dissenting voice in the vote for authorization of military force (AUMF) after the terrorist attacks on September 11th.

Amid her busy schedule serving the constituents of the 13th district, Congresswoman Lee graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions for the BCC Voice, about some of the issues that are important to her, following the election of Donald Trump.

There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in the next four years. What she hopes to accomplish in Congress and for the 13th district:

This Congress, I will continue the fight to ensure economic opportunity for all Americans and reject any attempt by President-elect Trump to roll back the clock. Creating good-paying jobs and preserving vital safety-net programs, such as housing assistance, food stamps, and Medicare, is the only way to empower struggling families to build pathways out of poverty. My bill, Pathways Out of Poverty, which I will re-introduce, is a comprehensive program that would help lift families into the middle class.

One of the Congresswoman’s pertinent initiatives is to repeal the Hyde Amendment which prohibits Medicaid funding for abortions, disadvantaging low-income and minority women. On her fight for women’s healthcare for every woman:

For too long, politicians have been interfering with a woman’s personal healthcare decision simply because of how much she earns, where she lives or who her employer is. This is simply unacceptable. Women deserve the right to make the best healthcare decision for herself and her family. We know that we are going to have to fight back against the GOP and their war on women.

On bureaucracy hindering progress:

Bureaucracy definitely hinders progress and that is why it is so important that I work across the aisle with my Republican colleagues to pass legislation that works in the best interest of all Americans, not just the wealthy.

For a lot of students, this election marks the first time they are becoming politically and socially active. On the importance of the millennial voice:

Young people need to be involved in politics, they have the most at stake. I’m so proud of all the young people in my district that got involved and continue to be involved. I did not register to vote until Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm took me to task about it and taught me that real change begins with the ballot.

This new period we are about to enter under President-elect Trump feels as though the voices of young women of color might be jeopardized in positions of leadership. To those women she says:

Despite the disappointing Electoral College results, three amazing women of color were elected to the Senate. For the first time in American history, there is more than one woman of color serving in the Senate. Their election is a ray of hope and a sign of progress that we are making as a nation.

My mentor, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, was the first woman and the first African American woman to seek a major party nomination for President. She shattered many glass ceilings and paved the way for many women and people of color including President Obama and Secretary Clinton. I advise all women, especially women of color to heed to her words of wisdom: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring in a folding chair”.

Thank you to Tasion Kwamilele for organizing this for the BCC Voice.

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