From her segregated hometown to the halls of Congress, Barbara Lee has never stopped fighting for what’s right. 

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. She is the highest ranking African American woman appointed to Democratic Leadership, serving as Co-Chair of the Policy and Steering Committee. She also serves on the Budget Committee and the powerful Appropriations Committee, which oversees all federal government spending.

In 2001, Barbara received national attention as the only Member of Congress to oppose the authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) in the wake of the horrific events on September 11th. She believed this AUMF would become a blank check for endless war. Barbara has long advocated for legislative action to end poverty. In 2007, she worked with a diverse coalition of Members to create the Out of Poverty Caucus. In 2013, she became chair of the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity. As chair, she leads more than 100 Members of Congress in crafting and advancing legislation to lift millions of American families out of poverty and into the middle class.

Barbara Lee