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Barbara Lee

Comprehensive ‘THRIVE Agenda’ responds to ongoing crises of COVID-19, climate change, racial injustice, and economic inequity

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Rep. Barbara Lee joined several leaders in Congress and a coalition of grassroots groups, labor unions, and Black, Brown and Indigenous leaders from across the country to introduce a bold plan for economic renewal known as the Agenda to Transform, Heal, and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy, or THRIVE Agenda.

Eighty members of Congress across both chambers have already endorsed the THRIVE resolution as original co-sponsors. THRIVE lays out the unifying principles necessary to build a society that enables dignified work; increased racial, economic, gender, and environmental justice; healthy communities; and a stable climate.

In the Senate, the resolution is led by Senator Edward John Markey and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, both of Massachusetts, with support from Sen. Cory A. Booker and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) among others.

In the House of Representatives, the resolution is led by New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland with Rep. Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna of California, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut with several others.

The THRIVE agenda is built on eight pillars, which span from creating millions of good, safe jobs with access to unions to averting climate catastrophe while investing in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities.

A copy of the THRIVE Agenda resolution can be found HERE. A one-page overview of the THRIVE Agenda can be found HERE.

“The current COVID-19 crisis once again illustrates the legacy that racism and white supremacy has had in our country, and the desperate need to address the inequality that continues today,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “We cannot change 400-year-old systems of oppression without a fight. This resolution is an important step in addressing the issues of economic inequality, climate change, and empowering workers.”

A new poll finds that the eight pillars of the THRIVE Agenda are broadly popular across the country. Additionally, a new economic analysis from the University of Massachusetts Amherst finds that a bold economic renewal plan, as outlined in the THRIVE Agenda, would create nearly 16 million new jobs.

Under this agenda, these 16 million new jobs would offer safe workplaces, family-sustaining wages and benefits, and access to unions.

These workers would be part of a national agenda to deploy clean and affordable public transit, replace lead pipes for clean water, expand wind and solar power, care for our children and the elderly, retrofit buildings to cut costs and pollution, expand the manufacturing of clean technologies, restore our wetlands and forests, and grow food sustainably on family farms.

The THRIVE Agenda is supported by more than 200 national and local organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers, Center for American Progress, Church World Service, Climate Justice Alliance, Color of Change, Communications Workers of America, Green New Deal Network, Indigenous Environmental Network, League of Conservation Voters, Movement for Black Lives, People’s Action, Service Employees International Union, Sierra Club, Sunrise Movement, United We Dream.

“To meet this moment, we cannot accept short-term solutions that pretend our problems are siloed and don’t seek to transform the systems that harm Black people,” said Karissa Lewis, National Field Director, Movement for Black Lives. “…We can’t address a pandemic that is ravaging Black and Brown people without ensuring access to quality health care and the basic right of not living with or drinking toxic pollutants. Everything is connected, and we do ourselves a grave disservice by maintaining normality when momentum is on our side and the people are demanding more.”

“Indigenous peoples know that everything in life is connected and related,” agreed Tom BK Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network. “The THRIVE Agenda addresses the climate crisis, racial injustice, mass unemployment, economic injustice and the global pandemic while recognizing the importance of recognition of our Indigenous and tribal sovereignty and treaty rights. Indigenous knowledge provides a path forward, acknowledging any form of economic recovery must respect the sacred relationship to Mother Earth, to assure nature and ecosystems are not viewed as capital in a carbon and conservation offset market system and THRIVE recognizes that.”

Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Issues Statement on Biden High-Speed Internet Deal

“Here in the East Bay, access to high-speed internet is a matter of racial justice and equity,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13). “This became especially clear during the pandemic, when many Oakland kids were not able to participate in remote learning simply because they did not have internet access at home.

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Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) (Photo: Barbara Lee speaking at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention in San Francisco, California. / George Skidmore / Wikipedia Commons)
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) (Photo: Barbara Lee speaking at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention in San Francisco, California. / George Skidmore / Wikipedia Commons)

By Alex Katz

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) issued the following statement on May 10 celebrating the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), the Biden Administration’s effort to make high-speed internet cheaper, faster, and more widely available.

“Here in the East Bay, access to high-speed internet is a matter of racial justice and equity,” Lee said. “This became especially clear during the pandemic, when many Oakland kids were not able to participate in remote learning simply because they did not have internet access at home.

“The Oakland Unified School District connected 98% of its students to high-speed internet during the pandemic, giving out 36,000 laptops and 11,500 hotspots. That effort is commendable, and it needs to be repeated across our country. It is critical that we help close the economic and educational gap created by lack of affordable internet service. The ACP is a step in the right direction towards equitable internet access for all.”

On Monday, President Biden and Vice President Harris announced that they have secured private sector commitments that will lower high-speed internet costs for millions of families.

As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Congress and the White House worked to create the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which allows tens of millions of American households to reduce their internet service costs by up to $30/month (or $75/month on Tribal lands).

To ensure the most efficient use of those public dollars and to deliver maximum cost savings to families, the Biden-Harris Administration has secured commitments from 20 leading internet providers — covering more than 80% of the U.S. population across urban, suburban, and rural areas — to either increase speeds or cut prices, making sure they all offer ACP-eligible households high-speed, high-quality internet plans for no more than $30/month.

From large providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon serving dozens of states, to smaller providers serving rural areas like Jackson Energy Authority in Tennessee and Comporium in North Carolina, the commitments will allow tens of millions of ACP-eligible households to receive high-speed internet at no cost.

For details on how you can sign up for ACP and find participating internet providers in their area, go to: GetInternet.gov

Alex Katz works in Rep. Barbara Lee’s communications office.

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Barbara Lee

IN MEMORIAM: Tribute to the Late Rev. Dr. Gillette O. James, Emeritus

Rev. Dr. Gillette O. James’ patience and foresight helped individuals to discern their calling to the ministry. Some became pastors because they were properly trained, tutored and mentored in the meaning of godly service to others.

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Rev. Dr. Gillette O. James, pastor emeritus, Beth Eden Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Gillette O. James, pastor emeritus, Beth Eden Baptist Church

By Rev. Dr. Martha C. Taylor

Maya Angelou’s iconic poem “When Great Trees Fall” is a reminder of the impact that a person has on the lives of others during their lifetime.

Rev. Dr. Gillette O. James, pastor emeritus, Beth Eden Baptist Church was called from labor to reward on April 20, 2022, leaving a huge void in the Bay Area after serving for 46 years as senior pastor. He was an honored senior statesman and distinguished iconic figure.

Pastor James joined the Beth Eden community in 1970 as an assistant pastor. A year later, he accepted the call to lead the congregation after the retirement of Pastor A.C. Dones. Dr. James became the 12th pastor of Beth Eden, also known as the “Mother Church” because it was the first Black Baptist church in Oakland and also a historic flagship church in Alameda County.

Dr. James was born in Dominica, West Indies. He immigrated to the United States in 1955, and later met his beautiful wife, the late Dr. Rosa V. Ferguson, in Ohio. She was a renowned educator in the Bay Area and formerly with the Progressive National Baptist Convention as noted by Dr. Vinchael Booth.

They remained married for 55 years until her death in 2017. They have one daughter, Jennifer Muhammad. Dr. James was a great soul. He was not only a pastor, he was an educator, author, community leader, justice warrior, humanitarian champion, voice for the voiceless, and a moving force for civil rights in the Bay Area.

Pastor James was a strong advocate for the role of women in church leadership positions. At one point, he was ousted from the California State Baptist Convention for his strong stance on women’s involvement in the ministry. He was later restored and continued to license and ordain numerous women in the clergy ministry.

Bay Area pastors looked up to Dr. James as a ‘pastor’s pastor’ and mentor. For him, life had endless possibilities. Dr. James had a reputation for keeping churches united. Under his leadership, Beth Eden maintained strong relationships with other churches and denominations including Taylor United Methodist, Bethlehem Lutheran and Antioch Missionary Baptist churches during the Thanksgiving season.

Dr. James was one of the rare persons who reached the summit of life because he believed in God’s word: “Thou Will be Done on Earth.” Doing God’s will on earth was about helping others along the way.

With the help of able-bodied members, Beth Eden built 54 senior housing units, purchased single-family housing and a triplex near the church for low-income families, fed the hungry, distributed groceries in the community.

Under his visionary leadership, a new family life center, with gymnasium and a daycare facility started construction and has been completed under the leadership of Dr. Dwight Webster, current pastor.

Dr. James showed a great appreciation for Black History, both from a religious as well as a cultural perspective. Beth Eden provided free office space to the first Black Adoption Agency in the Bay Area in its early days.

At one point, Beth Eden was named Oakland’s Teaching Church of the Year by the Berkeley School of Theology, formerly known as American Baptist Seminary of the West. Dr. James served on the seminary’s trustee board, was an adjunct professor at the seminary, bringing new ways of bridging theological training to the everyday lives of people.

Dr. James’ patience and foresight helped individuals to discern their calling to the ministry. Some became pastors because they were properly trained, tutored and mentored in the meaning of godly service to others. Dr. James authored “Through Toils and Snares-A Preacher Testifies.”

In this book, we get a glimpse of Dr. James’ life prior to his call to ministry at Beth Eden. Dr. James served two years in the military as Chaplain Assistant with numerous military attire photos. He was ordained in San Francisco at the Greater New St. John Missionary Baptist Church; one month later he and his wife were the key organizers of Grace Baptist Church, San Francisco. Drs. Gillette and Rosa James purchased a beautiful home on Havenscourt Boulevard, a tree-lined street in East Oakland where they loved entertaining the deacon and deaconess boards, often having them over for dinner and fellowship.

On March 13, 2017, Congresswoman Barbara Lee honored Dr. James in the House of Representatives on the occasion of his retirement as Pastor of Beth Eden. Dr. James legacy will never die. The current pastor, Rev. Dwight Webster, PhD, is a former son of Beth Eden, who was mentored by Dr. James.

The Homegoing celebration for Dr. James will be held Monday, May 16, 2022, at Beth Eden Baptist Church at 1183 Tenth St. in Oakland at 11 a.m.

COVID protocols will be observed and everyone must wear a mask.

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Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee Disappointed as Senate Fails to Pass Women’s Health Protection Act

“There has never been a more important time for Congress to step up and protect the right to an abortion,” said U.S. Rep. Lee, co-chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus. “Recent efforts by the Supreme Court to abandon 50 years of precedent and deny the American public their constitutional right to reproductive autonomy is alarming.

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U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13), co-chair of the Pro- Choice Caucus.
U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13), co-chair of the Pro- Choice Caucus.

By Sean Ryan

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13), co-chair of the Pro- Choice Caucus, released a statement on the failure of the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) — legislation that protects the right to access abortion nationwide — in the Senate on May 11.

This legislation safeguards abortion rights against the barrage of state-based attacks and provides a bulwark against the anticipated Supreme Court action to strike down or erode the protections established in Roe v. Wade and failed by a vote of 49-51 in the Senate.

“There has never been a more important time for Congress to step up and protect the right to an abortion,” said U.S. Rep. Lee, co-chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus. “Recent efforts by the Supreme Court to abandon 50 years of precedent and deny the American public their constitutional right to reproductive autonomy is alarming.

“Wealthy Americans will always have access to abortion, and the impacts of a decision overturning Roe v. Wade will fall hardest on individuals who already face barriers to accessing care, specifically people with low incomes, and Black and brown women. The Senate’s failed passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act has made it clear that anti-abortion politicians will not stop at Roe v. Wade. They are committed to controlling people’s personal healthcare decisions.

“We cannot go back to the days before Roe v. Wade. We must fight with everything we have to protect our reproductive freedoms. As the Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus, I’m going to continue working with my colleagues to find a pathway toward safeguarding our decades old constitutional right to reproductive choice. The public is on our side, we just need to muster up the political will to get it done. This fight is not over.”

Sean Ryan is a member of the media relations office in Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office.

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