Southern California community leaders stand united behind the candidacy of Barbara Lee, center. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

Fifty were invited, but nearly 100 showed up on Nov. 27, to support Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s campaign to represent California in the U.S. Senate.

During a breakfast hosted by Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., longtime civil rights activist and executive publisher of the L.A. Sentinel, along with special guest and Barbara Lee supporter   Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, a range of African American and Latino community leaders showed up to listen as well as endorse Lee in the race to fill the seat of the late Dianne Feinstein.

The supporters were led by Bass and Compton Mayor Emma Sharif, who are among the elected officials backing Lee.  Noted faith leaders in the crowd included the Rev. K.W. Tulloss, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference; the Rev. Dr. J. Benjamin Hardwick, president of the Western Baptist State Convention; the Rev. John Cager III, presiding elder in the AME Church; the Rev. J. Edgar Boyd, just retired pastor of First AME Church of Los Angeles, the Rev. Dr. Mary S. Minor of Brookins-Kirkland AME Church, and Pastor Shep Crawford of The Experience Christian Ministries.

Rep. Lee stresses her lifelong commitment to justice and human rights. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

While Los Angeles faith leaders showed up in mass, Pasadena and Inland Valley clergy also showed up to support and hear Lee’s message.  These leaders included community activist Lena L. Kennedy, Jerred K. McDaniel of First AME Zion, Pastor Evert Bell of Bethel Monrovia AME, Pastor John DeCuir of Victory Bible Church, Rev. Sonja Williams of Bethel AME, Pastors Anthony McFarland and Dr. Micheline McFarland of Abundant Harvest, Pastor John Bledsoe representing Rev. Tyron Skinner, Rev. Wayne Cooper of Lincoln Avenue Community Church, Pastor Kenny Baker of Bethel AME Perris, and Pastor Lance Arnold of Second Baptist Church of Monrovia.

Several local nonprofit, labor and education leaders were also in attendance to listen to Lee’s message of hope, inclusion and opportunity.  Those in attendance included Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, executive director of Ward Economic Development Corporation; Dr. Corliss McGhee, board member of Inglewood Unified School District; Robert Sausedo, president of Community Build, along with Michael Lawson and Cynthia Mitchell-Heard of Los Angeles Urban League.

Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., Barbara Lee, and Mayor Karen Bass during the breakfast meeting. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

Welcoming the crowd, Bakewell said, “Thanks so much for coming.  It is really meaningful that we turn out like this in our community for what’s important and this is an important occasion.”

Preparing to present Mayor Bass to the audience, he said, “Her work speaks for itself,” as he commended her success in addressing homelessness in the city and leading the reopening of the 10 freeway, which was closed due to a fire.

“Us as Black people, us as people of color, and us as people who live in Los Angeles – she knows how to bring it.  She is truly somebody whose leadership stands the test of time. She been there at every level – grassroots, Sacramento, Washington DC – and now she’s come home to us,” said Bakewell.  “We must continue to support her. I’m so happy to present my friend and our mayor, Karen Bass.”

Lee receives support of the L.A. Sentinel staff. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

Bass began by recounting her long relationship with Lee, which began after she founded Community Coalition and the then-Assemblymember assisted the organization in its campaign to close the abundance of liquor stores in South L.A.

“She didn’t know me, but she helped and was able to stop the liquor industry from overturning what we were doing in South L.A.,” Bass said about Lee’s efforts. She noted that the Lee also shared insight during Bass’ tenure in Congress where both served in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“She was my mentor, my guide, and stopped me from making so many mistakes. I don’t know a harder working person, a more accomplished person in Washington DC than Barbara Lee,” insisted the mayor.

Members of local clergy endorse Barbara Lee for the U.S. Senate. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

“So, when she stepped up to run for Senate, I said, like her slogan, ‘Barbara Lee speaks for me,’ and I will be there for her, which is why I, along with Danny, asked you to come and hear from the next senator from California, Barbara Lee.”

Greeting the crowd in English and Spanish, Lee traced her long career and success in overcoming challenges throughout her tenure in public service.  But she opened by telling the difficulty that her mother encountered while giving birth to Lee in El Paso, Texas.

“My mother was denied entrance into the hospital because she was Black. Finally, my grandmother got her in because [my grandmother] was very fair [skinned],” Lee said.  Still, her mother needed a C-section, but the staff just left her on a gurney in the hall.

“When she went into labor, no one was providing medical attention. When they pulled her into the emergency room, she was unconscious and the doctors didn’t know if she was going to live or not,” she said.

(E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

Fortunately, the doctors delivered Lee, who summarized, “The bottom-line is my mother almost died and I almost didn’t get here because we were Black.  So, my whole passion for justice, healthcare, for doing what is right, comes from my birth.  I just thank God that I’m here!”

And since birth, Lee has continuously made positive impacts. As a teenager in San Fernando High School, she became her high school’s first Black cheerleader.  Also, Lee was the first African American woman from Northern California elected to the State Assembly and Senate, and in 1998, she became the first woman elected to Congress from her district.

Now as a candidate for Senate, Lee aims to focus on solutions to homelessness, poverty, and the climate crisis. Her platform also included protecting democracy and human rights, fighting for progressive values, and delivering real results.

On Nov. 18, Lee received most votes at the California Democratic Party convention, winning 42% of the delegates in the endorsement vote for the U.S. Senate race.

“From day one, this campaign has been focused on delivering the progressive agenda that working people in California deserve: a Green New Deal, single-payer healthcare, and economic, racial, social and environmental justice for all,” declared Lee.

“The people want a tried and tested progressive with the record to prove it. I’m ready to deliver!”


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