The California Black Media Political Playback: “Black Women Get the Job Done”

Last Saturday, Rep. Barbara Lee held her first U.S. Senate campaign rally at Laney College in Oakland. 

(L to R) Asm. Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) , Attorney General Rob Bonta, Asm. Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) , Asm. Reggie Jones Swayer ( D-Los Angeles)

Tanu Henry and Antonio Ray Harvey

Rep. Barbara Lee Holds First Campaign Rally in Oakland 

Last Saturday, Rep. Barbara Lee held her first U.S. Senate campaign rally at Laney College in Oakland. 

“We fight for freedom, for dignity, for justice, and, together, we win,” said Lee to a cheering crowd of supporters gathered at the Alameda County community college. 

“That’s why I’m running for the United States Senate,” continued Lee, who is the highest ranking African American woman in the U.S. Congress and the only African American so far in the 2024 California senatorial race. 

Lee, 76, is serving her 12th term in the United States Congress. Known for her progressive politics, she joins the race to replace Feinstein against two other members of California’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives: Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA-37), 49, and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA-30), 62. 

Several high-profile Bay Area politicians attended the rally, including San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, the first Hmong-American mayor of a major American city. 

“Black women have been at the forefront of frontlines of the fight for freedom and dignity and justice and peace for centuries. Black women get the job done,” said Lee. 

The Bontas Have (Clearly) Moved On

After weeks of facing a torrent of criticisms coming from several journalists across California – including an editorial in the L.A. Times — it seems Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Alameda) and her husband, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, have moved on. 

Mrs. Bonta showed her support for Rep. Barbara Lee after the Congresswoman held the first rally of her senatorial bid on Bonta’s Alameda County home turf. 

“Barbara Lee speaks for me,” said Mrs. Bonta who has been keeping herself occupied tackling other issues in her district, including the excessive use of force by law enforcement and the persistent digital divide affecting families of color. 

Last week, Assembly Budget Committee chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) also released a statement assuring the public that Mrs. Bonta will not influence issues affecting her husband or the California Department of Justice (DOJ). 

“Effective immediately in the Assembly Budget Committee, any state funding matters pertaining to the Department of Justice will be temporarily moved to and overseen by Budget Subcommittee 4,” said Ting. “DOJ’s proposed allocations will go through the same vetting process that all entities funding by California’s budget do, allowing for anyone to weigh in during public hearings.” 

On Friday, Mr. Bonta delivered remarks at California’s commemoration of the National Day of Racial Healing. 

While pushing back on the media attacks, the Bontas enjoyed support from some commentators. 

“The media focus should be on covering both (Rob and Mia Bonta’s) efforts to promote public safety and make California a better place for all citizens. I urge all reporters and editors to uphold the principles of responsible journalism and prioritize the truth and accuracy of their reporting over sensationalism and clickbait. The public deserves better than to be misled by unfounded innuendo,” said Paul Cobb, publisher of the Oakland Post.  “The Black press has a responsibility to step up and do its part to foster a more informed and engaged public and not allow mainstream media and newspapers to marginalize Black leaders without pushing back especially when their reporting shows ignorance and fails to uphold the principles of responsible journalism.”

Assemblymembers Holden and Jones Sawyer Eye Futures in Local Gov’t

As their time in the state legislature gets closer to end due to term limits, California Legislative Black Caucus members Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) and Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) have announced their future political plans.

Assemblymember Holden is entering the race for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (5th District). He’ll face Republican incumbent Kathryn Barger. 

Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer is seeking to represent the 10th District on the Los Angeles City Council, hoping to replace Heather Hutt who was appointed to the seat because Mark Ridley-Thomas is under Federal indictment.

Each member elected on or after the passage of Proposition 28, in 2012, are allowed to serve a lifetime maximum of 12 years in the State Legislature, or a combination of service in the Assembly and Senate. Holden has been in office since December 2014 and Jones-Sawyer has served in the Assembly since December 2012. 

Public Policy of California Releases Profile of Black Community

As Black History Month draws to a close, the Public Policy Institute of California has released a profile of Black Californians titled “California’s African American Community.” 

“One in 20 Black Americans lived in California in the most recent Census count, and California’s Black population is larger than that of all but five other states (Texas, Georgia, Florida, New York, and North Carolina),” the report reads before giving an overview of the history of Blacks in California and pointing out that only 3 % of California’s Black population are non-citizens and only 4% are naturalized. 

According to the profile, Black Californians “lag behind other groups in college graduation, home ownership, and income.” 

When it comes to political participation, Blacks engage in the electoral process at rates almost equal to their White counterparts.  

Read the full profile here.

Antonio Ray Harvey

Antonio (Tony) Ray Harvey was born and raised in Champaign, Illinois, but has resided in Sacramento, California for 32 years. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and a minor in photography from California State University, Sacramento.

Aside from reporting on local entertainment, community issues, city government, and political events at the California State Capitol, Harvey is also a freelance sports journalist in Northern California. He covers the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, and NCAA sports.

Harvey is a freelance reporter for California Black Media, is also the author of the Homicidal Handyman of Oak Park: Morris Solomon Jr. at Johnston College on the University of Redlands Campus 1974-76 and recently was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters from CSUSB in 2014.