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Barbara Lee, Local Youth Leaders Travel to Montgomery, AL for Nonviolence Summit

They also have met with other civil rights icons, elected officials, and leaders of community, faith-based and labor organizations to learn first-hand history of the civil rights movement.

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Civil rights march on Washington, D.C. Film negative by photographer Warren K. Leffler, 1963. From the U.S. News & World Report Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division. Photograph shows a procession of African Americans carrying signs for equal rights, integrated schools, decent housing, and an end to bias. https://www.loc.gov/item/2003654393/

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) joined East Bay youth leaders from the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center on July 31 to attend a nonviolence summit in Montgomery, Alabama.

Nine youth delegates from the Freedom Center, as well as 50 young people from Alabama, are attending the “Nonviolence in the 21st Century” summit this week to learn about the work of Dr. King, develop leadership skills, and meet with elected officials, activists and organizers.

“I am so proud of the young people from the East Bay who are making this journey to be part of the next generation of civil rights leaders,” Lee said.

“They are carrying on the legacy of my friend Congressman John Lewis, who inspired so many young people to take the baton and continue the race for justice and equality. John’s spirit is with us as we engage in conversations about dismantling systemic racism, addressing poverty, and protecting our sacred right to vote. I am honored to partner again with the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center to provide an opportunity for these students to learn about the legacy of Dr. King and how to fight for justice through nonviolence.”

For the past 16 years, local students from the MLK Freedom Center have joined Lee on annual visits to Alabama as delegates on Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimages with members of Congress from across the nation. The late Congressman Lewis, a leader and survivor of the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma, Ala., led the Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimages to give members of Congress and other attendees a chance to learn about the civil rights struggle with the goal of calling forth courage, conscience and compassion.

The Congressional Pilgrimages take place every year during the first weekend in March. The trip to this week’s summit is not part of a Congressional Pilgrimage and is the first time that students from the Freedom Center have travelled to Alabama in the summer.

The California youth delegation and a cohort of young leaders from Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell’s district have spent a week together studying nonviolence, the history of the Civil Rights Movement and tools to become more effective leaders.

They also have met with other civil rights icons, elected officials, and leaders of community, faith-based and labor organizations to learn first-hand history of the civil rights movement.

“Our students and staff are participating in the ‘Nonviolence in the 21st Century’ week fully prepared to listen and learn,” said Dr. Roy D. Wilson, executive director of the MLK Freedom Center. “They will speak up and connect with others who are prepared to own the common responsibility to confront racism, poverty and violence in ways that create an interracial, pluralistic democracy where love and friendship become our basic strategy of living.”

Sean Ryan is the communications director for Rep. Barbara Lee’s press office.

Barbara Lee

Black Californians Split on Supreme Court Gun Rights Ruling

Late last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom fired back by signing two pieces of new legislation intended to strengthen the state’s hardline position on possessing firearms in public. He says, together, the bills, AB 1621 and AB 2571, will take on ghost guns and prohibit the gun industry from “advertising to children.”

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U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) says the current right-leaning Supreme Court has shown a double standard in the way the justices ruled on gun rights and women’s rights to abortion.
U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) says the current right-leaning Supreme Court has shown a double standard in the way the justices ruled on gun rights and women’s rights to abortion.

By Tanu Henry, California Black Media

A little over a week ago, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) handed down a 6-to-3 decision making it more difficult for a handful of states – including California – to keep strict laws they have in place against carrying guns in public.

Late last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom fired back by signing two pieces of new legislation intended to strengthen the state’s hardline position on possessing firearms in public. He says, together, the bills, AB 1621 and AB 2571, will take on ghost guns and prohibit the gun industry from “advertising to children.”

“From our schools to our parks to our homes, our kids deserve to be safe – in California, we’re making that a reality. As the Supreme Court rolls back important gun safety protections and states across the country treat gun violence as inevitable, California is doubling down on commonsense gun safety measures that save lives,” said Newsom, who also pointed out that gun violence is the leading cause of death among children.

“The lives of our kids are at stake and we’re putting everything on the table to respond to this crisis,” the governor added.

News about the SCOTUS decision on guns June 23 was drowned out by coverage of the national outrage, and applause, that followed its ruling on Roe. V. Wade the next day.

Reactions nationally to the court’s gun restriction decision – the most significant change to the country’s firearm laws in a decade — were swift, passionate and strong. But the protests and celebrations mostly happened on the sidelines of the country’s more intense reactions to the abortion ruling.

In California, where more than 60% of all adults favor stronger gun laws, elected officials, activists and civil rights leaders have blasted the SCOTUS’ decision.

But not everyone agrees.

Micah Grant is Black, Republican, a father, husband and Natomas School Board member in Sacramento County. He agrees with the SCOTUS’ decision on guns, arguing that the New York law had a built-in racial and class bias.

“I think it’s a fundamentally sound ruling that comes at, obviously, a very sensitive time,” Grant said. “But the laws as they were created two separate classes of people, where in many regions, only the connected and elite could exercise their fundamental right to protection.”

Grant says with crime on the rise in many cities across California, just going outside is “cause enough” to carry a gun.

“The state can simply implement reasonable training requirements to ensure those who apply for permits are knowledgeable, responsible, trained and that they understand the liability that comes with gun ownership,” Grant added.

California is one of five states with gun restrictions on the books, both statewide and municipal, that are affected by the ruling. The others are Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Hawaii.

SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanagh said states are still allowed to ban handguns in certain sensitive places like courthouses, statehouses, polling places, etc.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37) is running for mayor of Los Angeles, a city where the homicide rate has seen a steep 50% increase between 2019 and the end of last year.

“Only 31 days after 19 students and 2 teachers were murdered in one of the most devastating mass shootings in the history of this country, the Supreme Court has responded by striking down a law that was on the books for more than 100 years, making it easier now to carry a weapon in public,” Bass said in response to SCOTUS’ ruling.

Craig DeLuz is Black and Republican like Grant and also the publisher of 2ANews, an online news and opinion outlet focused on gun rights.

“When you have a patchwork of laws from one city to another you don’t know what the regulations are. You are setting someone up to violate the law,” he says.

DeLuz says as Gov. Newsom and state legislators draft new public safety laws to comply with the SCOTUS’ ruling, he hopes they do not violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that grants citizens the right to bear arms.

“His lack of knowledge on the issue of firearm policy and firearm technology is evident every time he speaks about it,” DeLuz said, criticizing the governor.

“Gun control laws in the state of California and nationally have been about disarming people of color going back to the 1870s,” he said. “It has been about making it illegal for Native Americans, Chinese Americans, Blacks and other people of color from owning firearms.”

Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) has been the strongest voice in the California Legislative Black Caucus calling for strong gun control laws.

“Alarmingly, we are finding that more and more, no region or demographic is exempt from gun violence – our hospitals, grocery stores, schools, and even places of worship, are no longer safe. The proliferation of ghost guns, which are intentionally untraceable weapons to evade law enforcement, has only worsened the issue,” Gipson said.

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) says the current right-leaning Supreme Court has shown a double standard in the way the justices ruled on gun rights and women’s rights to abortion.

“This conservative Supreme Court has ruled that states shouldn’t be trusted to make their own laws on gun control but can keep people from making their own health care decisions. It is unconscionable,” Lee said. “We are seeing the horrific consequences of minority rule playing out in real time—and this is only the beginning of their radical agenda to take America back in history and take another step toward eroding our democracy.”

There is overwhelming support and widespread commitment among elected officials in California for finding ways to strengthen gun laws in the wake of the SCOTUS decision.

In the state budget that Newsom signed last week, lawmakers and the governor’s office agreed to fund $176 million in gun violence prevention grants going to 79 cities and nonprofits.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that he is working with the state Legislature on Senate Bill (SB) 918, to preserve California’s existing concealed carry laws. He reminded residents of the state that “general prohibitions” against carrying firearms in public are still in effect.

“The data is clear, and the consequences are dire — more guns in more places make us less safe. In California, we are committed to passing and defending common-sense, constitutional gun laws that save lives,” Bonta said.

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Activism

Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s Fourth of July Remarks

Independence and liberty for all were not achieved in 1776. Instead, it’s taking centuries to realize true freedom — for Black people, women, LGBTQ+ communities, and so many more marginalized groups.

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“Remembering my friend and personal hero, John Lewis, I wanted to share some of my favorite memories with you all,” (Photo: Barbara Lee, March 2020 / Wikimedia Commons)
“Remembering my friend and personal hero, John Lewis, I wanted to share some of my favorite memories with you all,” (Photo: Barbara Lee, March 2020 / Wikimedia Commons)

On July 4th, we celebrated 246 years since our nation gained independence. And on this holiday, I’m mindful of what freedom really means to many Americans.

Independence and liberty for all were not achieved in 1776. Instead, it’s taking centuries to realize true freedom — for Black people, women, LGBTQ+ communities, and so many more marginalized groups.

It’s why we celebrated Juneteenth two weeks ago — honoring the emancipation of people who were enslaved in Texas and the struggle for Black liberation. And it’s why we celebrated Pride last month — commemorating the Stonewall Uprising led by trans women of color and the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights and equality.”

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Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Lee Comments on Bipartisan Senate Framework for Gun Reform Legislation

“The bipartisan Senate framework on gun reform legislation is a crucial first step. This legislation will make critical investments in mental health resources, school safety, and increased vetting for weapons purchases. But while this is a start, much more must be done to address the gun violence epidemic,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

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Rep. Barbara Lee. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Congress.
Barbara Lee.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee released a statement on the bipartisan Senate framework on gun reform legislation that was announced on June 12:

“The bipartisan Senate framework on gun reform legislation is a crucial first step. This legislation will make critical investments in mental health resources, school safety, and increased vetting for weapons purchases. But while this is a start, much more must be done to address the gun violence epidemic.

“I’ve recently met with gun violence prevention groups in my district who are doing the work on the ground in our community to end the cycle of violence and trauma. Their message to me was clear: they want Congress to take bold action.

“Our next steps should include banning assault weapons, taking ghost guns off the streets, incentivizing more comprehensive background checks, promoting gun buy backs and much more. Gun violence is a uniquely American problem. We cannot stop until our schools, grocery stores, churches, hospitals, and all of our communities are safe.”

Congresswoman Lee is the highestranking Black woman in the U.S. Congress.

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Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson
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