73 Facts About Barbara Lee


Barbara Jean Lee is an American politician and social worker who has served as a US representative from California since 1998.


Barbara Lee started her career by working on the presidential campaign of Shirley Chisholm and was later involved with the Black Panther Party.


Barbara Lee was elected to the House of Representatives in a 1998 special election to succeed Dellums.


Barbara Lee is a candidate for the United States Senate in the 2024 election to succeed Dianne Feinstein, who is retiring.


Barbara Lee is the daughter of Mildred Adaire and Garvin Alexander Tutt, a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army.


Barbara Lee is African American; according to a DNA analysis, she descends primarily from the people of Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone.


Barbara Lee was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools, where she was taught by the Sisters of Loretto.


Barbara Lee was the only African American Girl Scout in El Paso and recalls facing racial discrimination throughout her childhood.


Barbara Lee attended San Fernando High School in the Pacoima neighborhood of Los Angeles, where she worked with the NAACP to become the school's first African American cheerleader, and graduated in 1964.


When she was 15, Barbara Lee had a back-alley abortion in Ciudad Juarez.


Barbara Lee married Carl Lee, a member of the United States Air Force, and moved with him to England after high school; they had two children and divorced when Lee was 20.


Barbara Lee describes the marriage as abusive and became homeless following the divorce.


Barbara Lee later moved to the Bay Area and attended Mills College, where she served as president of the college's Black Student Union and graduated in 1973 with a bachelor of arts in psychology.


Barbara Lee later attended the University of California, Berkeley and graduated in 1975 with a master of social work.


Barbara Lee worked for the Glendale Welfare Council and later as a statistical clerk for the California Department of Labor Statistics.


Barbara Lee was inspired to register to vote by Chisholm's visit and went on to work on Chisholm's 1972 presidential campaign, serving as one of her delegates at the 1972 Democratic National Convention.


Barbara Lee later said Chisholm was a mentor who inspired her to run for office.


Also while a student, Barbara Lee volunteered at the Oakland chapter of the Black Panther Party's Community Learning Center and worked on Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale's 1973 campaign for mayor of Oakland.


Barbara Lee was surveilled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation due to her involvement with the Black Panthers.


Barbara Lee was later offered an internship in the office of Representative Ron Dellums, who represented an Oakland-based district.


Barbara Lee was one of the only African Americans and women to hold a senior staff position on Capitol Hill.


Barbara Lee was elected to the California State Assembly in 1990 to succeed Elihu Harris, who retired to successfully run for mayor of Oakland.


Barbara Lee served three terms in the Assembly and was elected to the California State Senate in 1996.


Barbara Lee resigned her seat in the State Senate after winning a special election to the US House of Representatives in 1998.


Barbara Lee was the first African American woman to represent Northern California in the California State Legislature.


Barbara Lee worked to defeat California's three-strikes law and was an early champion of LGBTQ+ rights.


Barbara Lee was a member of the California Commission on the Status of Women and founded the California Commission on the Status of African American Males.


Barbara Lee has since been re-elected to the House of Representatives 12 more times.


In lieu of running for a 14th term, Barbara Lee is running to succeed Dianne Feinstein in the United States Senate in 2024.


Barbara Lee originally represented California's 9th congressional district, which she represented until 2013.


Barbara Lee later represented the 13th district from 2013 to 2023 and has represented the 12th district since 2023.


Barbara Lee's district is located in Alameda County and includes the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville, Alameda, Albany, Piedmont, San Leandro, and most of San Lorenzo.


Barbara Lee endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries.


Barbara Lee gained national attention in 2001 as the only member of Congress to vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, stating that she voted no not because she opposed military action but because she believed the AUMF, as written, granted the president overly broad powers to wage war at a time when the facts regarding the situation were not yet clear.


Barbara Lee "warned her colleagues to be 'careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target".


Barbara Lee's vote made national news and a large and extremely polarized response, with the volume of calls gridlocking the switchboard of her Capitol Hill office.


Barbara Lee was criticized by politicians and in editorial pages of conservative-leaning newspapers, such as John Fund's column in The Wall Street Journal.


Barbara Lee voted to limit military operations in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, against authorizing air strikes, and for a Republican-backed plan to completely withdraw US troops from the operation, all in 1999.


Barbara Lee was one of only 46 Democrats to vote for the Online Freedom of Speech Act of 2005.


Barbara Lee was one of only 13 Democrats to vote against an emergency supplemental appropriations bill in 2007 which, among other things, funded the Iraq War but required withdrawal of US forces to begin by October 1, but in favor of overriding President Bush's veto of the measure on May 2.


In November 2009, Barbara Lee was one of 36 representatives to vote against House Resolution 867, which condemned the UN's Goldstone Report.


Barbara Lee voted to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011.


Barbara Lee voted in favor of similar resolutions involving troop withdrawal from Pakistan and, most recently, Libya.


Barbara Lee joined her Republican colleagues, one of 70 Democrats to do so, in voting against a resolution to authorize limited use of force in Libya.


Barbara Lee was one of only 36 Democrats to vote to limit funds appropriated for military operations in Libya.


In July 2019, Barbara Lee voted against a House resolution condemning the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel.


In October 2020, Barbara Lee co-signed a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemning Azerbaijan's offensive operations against the Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.


Barbara Lee is a strong advocate for legislation restricting the availability of guns.


Barbara Lee participated in the 2016 sit-in against gun violence in the House of Representatives.


Barbara Lee introduced the Women and Climate Change Act in February 2018.


The bill is named for Shirley Chisholm, who helped inspire Barbara Lee to become involved in politics when Chisholm ran for the Democratic nomination for president; Barbara Lee was the Chisholm campaign's Northern California chair.


In 1968, Barbara Lee began volunteering at the Black Panther Party's Community Learning Center in Oakland.


Barbara Lee worked on Bobby Seale's 1973 campaign for mayor of Oakland.


Barbara Lee disagreed with the National Park Service removing funding for a Black Panther Legacy Project in 2017.


Barbara Lee has supported a number of efforts to reform cannabis laws in Congress.


Barbara Lee was an original cosponsor of the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act when it was first introduced in 2011.


In 2005, Barbara Lee was one of 31 House Democrats who voted not to accept Ohio's electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election.


Barbara Lee backed an amendment to reduce the size of the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, but a majority of Democrats and Republicans rejected it.


Barbara Lee has made affordable housing a top priority, particularly in the East Bay.


Barbara Lee has supported and backed legislation meant to expand home ownership opportunities, improve public housing quality, and assist the homeless.


On September 29,2008, Barbara Lee was one of 95 Democrats to vote against the defeated Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.


On March 15,2013, Barbara Lee announced the official relaunch of the Congressional Social Work Caucus to the 113th Congress as its new chair.


Barbara Lee co-chaired the Congressional Progressive Caucus with Lynn Woolsey from 2005 to 2009.


Barbara Lee chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from 2009 to 2011.


On November 28,2018, Barbara Lee lost an attempt to become chair of the House Democratic Caucus to Hakeem Jeffries.


On November 30,2018, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi announced that she had recommended Barbara Lee to become one of three co-chairs of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee alongside Rosa DeLauro and Eric Swalwell.


Barbara Lee was the United States representative to the 68th, 70th, and 72nd sessions of the United Nations General Assembly.


In January 2023, it was reported that Barbara Lee planned to run for the United States Senate seat currently held by Dianne Feinstein in 2024 after she revealed her intentions to members of the Congressional Black Caucus.


Barbara Lee formally launched her Senate campaign in Oakland on February 21,2023.


Barbara Lee married Carl Barbara Lee after graduating high school in 1964.


Barbara Lee described the marriage as abusive and divorced her husband when she was 20.


In 2003, Barbara Lee was recognized as a Woman of Peace at the Global Exchange Human Rights Awards in San Francisco with Bianca Jagger, Arundhati Roy and Kathy Kelly.


In 2010, Barbara Lee took the food stamp challenge and appeared in the documentary film Food Stamped.