U.S. Representative Barbara Lee raised her sons, Tony and Craig, on her own; her stand on issues protecting the rights of the marginalized stem from her experiences as a Solo Mom in the 1970s. In 2013, Lee defended the importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called food stamps, in The Huffington Post: “When I was a young, single mother, I was on public assistance. It was a bridge over troubled water, and without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I spent hours debating what to buy and what to skip, all the while keeping my sons in my mind. I could go without breakfast; my sons couldn’t.” Her sons may be grown, but initiatives that help kids reach their full potential remain close to Lee’s heart. She has been a strong proponent of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper program, which addresses the role of education in creating opportunity for young men of color. For Lee, education is a key piece of the puzzle in overcoming adversity. In the book Women in Congress, 1917-2006, she recalls how access to higher education changed her own life. And in 2013, Lee became chair of the Democratic Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity, which is tasked with educating members of Congress and the American people about the ongoing crisis of poverty and the need to remove barriers that prevent low-income Americans from advancing.
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