The California Black Women’s Collective united with faith leaders throughout the state to recognize the achievements of U.S. Congresswomen Karen Bass and Barbara Lee. More than 200 people logged-in on International Women’s Day, March 8, to pay tribute to the political trailblazers.
The virtual event, billed as “A Conversation with Black Clergy and Faith Leaders,” was co-sponsored by the Baptist Ministers Conference of L.A. and Southern California (BMC), Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California (SCLC-SC), the AME Church and Allen Temple Baptist Church. The program also focused on strategies to secure the former senatorial seat of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris for another Black woman to fill.
Among the participants were the Rev. K.W. Tulloss, BMC president; the Rev. William Smart, SCLC-SC president; the Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Thompson, pastor of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland; the Rev. Dr. Mary Minor, pastor of Brookins-Kirkland Community AME Church in L.A., Jacqueline “Jackie” Dupont-Walker, AME Church Social Action Commission; Nourbese Flint, Black Women for Wellness, the Rev. Dr. Roslyn Brookins, pastor of Park Chapel AME Church in Oakland; and the Rev. Thembekila Smart, director of the Women of SCLC-SC and event moderator.
“I appreciate this great honor alongside my sister, Karen Bass. It makes it such a humbling moment for me because we are truly friends, comrades and workers together. I am also honored to among giants in religion and civic leaders who are making our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the message of life in our community,” said Lee.
“Thank you for all of your support over the years. These are challenging times but because of our faith, most of us are able to meet these challenges. Black women have been so instrumental in this struggle for justice and equality and this is our moment,” she said. “This is also the decade for people of African descent so we must fight together on issues that relate to our brothers and sisters in the diaspora.”
Bass said, “It is wonderful to be here with you. I had no idea I was getting an honor, so that was very nice and to have an honor next to my friend and mentor, Barbara Lee. I want to thank Pastor Tulloss, Pastor Smart, Pastor Brookins and all the people that made this happen.”
She went to talk about the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations and called for the age limit to be changed from the current 65-years-and-older to 55-years-and-older because the life expectancy for Blacks is lower than the national average. Also, she said she was tired of statements that say Black people don’t want to get the vaccination.
“We just finished doing a poll and learned that far more African Americans want to have the vaccine but they are struggling with access. That is one of many justice issues that we are fighting,” Bass said.
Lee represents the 13th District in Northern California. First elected in 1998, she is currently the only African American woman in Democratic Leadership, serving as co-chair of the Policy and Steering Committee. Also, Lee serves on the Budget Committee and the powerful Appropriations Committee, which oversees all federal government spending. In January 2021, she became the first African-American to chair the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.
Bass was reelected in November 2020 to her sixth term representing the 37th District in Southern California. A member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Bass is also the chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Global Human Rights. She also serves on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, where she is actively working to craft sound policing and criminal justice reform policies.