Longtime California Rep. Barbara Lee will announce she is running for the seat currently held by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, according to sources familiar with the situation. Lee is a longtime proponent of reparations for Black Americans.
According to a report by The Washington Post, Lee plans to announce her candidacy before the end of the month to coincide with Black History Month. A prior report from the Post said Lee told the Congressional Black Caucus of her intent to run for Feinstein’s seat in January.
“Currently, there are no Black Women in the U.S. Senate, and there have only been two in our almost 250-year history. Our voices are sorely missed in the Senate,” Lee told the Post in the statement. “My lived experience as a Black woman making true progressive change for Californians will give a voice in the U.S. to those who are currently voiceless.”
Feinstein, 89, holds the title of both the oldest senator and longest to serve in the governing body from California. She announced she would retire at the end of her term on Tuesday, Feb. 14.
“I am announcing today I will not run for re-election in 2024 but intend to accomplish as much for California as I can through the end of next year when my term ends,” Feinstein said in a statement.
Lee, 76, has represented California’s 13th congressional district for 25 years after being elected in 1998. She has been a staunch advocate for reparations during her tenure.
In 2020, Lee introduced legislation to establish a special commission called the “Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Commission” to study the legacy of slavery in the U.S. and suggest policies to address modern racial injustices.
“This is really about telling the truth,” Lee said about the proposal at the time.
Tell the truth: We cannot move forward without coming to terms with our past.
Let’s pass reparations.
— Barbara Lee (@BLeeForCongress) November 15, 2020
She doubled down on her stance about America’s need for truth and reconciliation with Black Americans during a speech at Harvard University in October 2022.
“This country has never had its truth-telling moment as it relates to the Middle Passage and the impacts of enslaving so many people for so many years,” Lee said. “After genocides, crimes against humanity, slavery, you can’t heal without people coming forth.”
Lee, who once led the CBC and supports HR 40, added the commission needs to be “intergenerational” and “intersectional” to make appropriate reparations proposals.
“It’s got to have people who are impacted by the legacy of slavery,” Lee said. “We’ve got to have young people to vision what the future looks like without these barriers of systemic racism. We have to have academics and historians, and we have to have a couple of politicians on it because they have to help shepherd the reparations and the final conclusion of this process through the United States Congress.”
If Rep. Barbara Lee does run as expected, she will face off against fellow Democrat Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff who’ve both declared their candidacies.
At least one other California Democrat, Rep. Ro Khanna, said he would consider Lee’s candidacy when deciding whether he would run for Feinstein’s seat.
“I do have a respect for her and the cause of seeing representation for an African American woman, and that is something I would factor in, candidly,” Khanna told the Post.
PHOTO: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., participates in a panel at the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
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