Celebrating Black History Month

I begin this Black History Month acknowledging the past year of continued persecution and inequitable treatment of Black Americans. While in the same moment celebrating the election of Vice President Kamala Harris, the poetry of Amanda Gorman, and the plan to finally put abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. In big and small ways, these celebrations represent meaningful progress.

I also honor the many trailblazers who came before -- from statesman Frederick Douglass to minister and activist Martin Luther King, Jr. to Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm to writer James Baldwin to civil rights activist Ruby Bridges to President Barack Obama. And so many, many more.

Yet too many have given their lives for the cause of civil rights -- and too many are still being killed for the color of their skin. Black Lives Matter. While we saw the world rise up against the murder of George Floyd, we also saw that not nearly enough has been done when it comes to holding murderers with badges accountable and implementing changes that provide social services for those in distress, rather than police involvement. I am not against police, I am against police brutality, systemic racism, and a state and country that treats Black people as second-class citizens. 

I am thrilled a record number of Black women will serve in the 117th Congress (2021-2023) as a result of the 2020 election, and I also acknowledge the glaring fact that there is no longer a Black woman serving in the U.S. Senate. There is still so much work to do. And it gives me hope that we have so many up and coming young Black elected leaders in California -- Councilmembers Devin Murphy in Pinole, Alex Walker Griffin in Hercules, Marcus Bush in National City, Terry Taplin in Berkeley, Daniel Lee in Culver City, Kristin McCowan in Santa Monica, Inglewood Unified School District Member D’Artagnan Scorza and others — and many leaders such as Secretary of State Shirley Weber and Los Angeles Supervisor Holly Mitchell taking on new and important roles in our state. I’m also excited to see leaders taking on new roles in our Party, including Tracie Stafford chairing the Sacramento County Central Committee, Will Rodriguez Kennedy chairing the San Diego County Central Committee and Diana Love chairing Region 9 of the Party. 

I remember my mother, though she was a dress clerk, calling out the covenant deed restrictions with the owner of a local real estate company when he told her and the other neighbors that none of them could sell their home to a Black family, because of deed restrictions. That was my first exposure to the fact that there was widespread discrimination in my community and in communities across the state. Early in my career as a young college professor a Black colleague and I collaborated to teach a course on racism and sexism. In my service in public office I have supported civil rights and have worked to diversify the commissions I oversaw. As a private citizen I have worked to support and elect more Black leaders. I am honored to have the endorsement of BWOPA PAC in my race for Party chair.

I know we still have much work to do to ensure an equal opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for Black Americans. I ask you to join me in signing the Emmett Till Anti-Racism Pledge here. And I promise to be anti-racist and an ally in creating more opportunities for you to run and win, and in supporting you in the work toward reparations and in your endeavors for equal treatment under the law. 

In solidarity,