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The Honorable Barbara Lee

U.S. Congresswoman Honorable Barbara Lee was born on July 16, 1946 in El Paso, Texas. Her biological father, James Lewis, was a veteran of the Korean War; her mother, Mildred Massey, a clerk. In 1960, Lee’s family moved to the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, California. As a teenager, she immersed herself in music and won two music achievement awards from the Rotary Club and the Bank of America. Lee graduated from San Fernando High School in 1964. She worked for one year in the California Department of Labor Statistics, and then went on to receive her B.A. degree in psychology from Mills College in 1973 and her M.A. degree in social work from the University of California at Berkeley in 1975.

Upon graduation, Lee worked for Congressman Ronald V. Dellums after serving as a legislative intern there during graduate school. While there, she managed Congressman Dellums’ offices in Washington, D.C. and Oakland, California for eleven years and eventually rose to the position of senior adviser. In 1990, Lee was elected to the California State Assembly; and, in 1996, she was elected to the California State Senate. As a Democrat, she worked successfully with California’s Republican administration in those years and sponsored sixty-seven bills that were signed into law by then-Republican Governor Pete Wilson. Lee’s political agenda focused on issues such as education, public safety, environmental protection, health, labor, and women’s rights. In 1998, she became the first woman to represent the State of California’s then-9th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and served as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2009 to 2011. She was later elected as the first woman to represent the California’s now-13th Congressional District in 2013. Lee also published a memoir, Renegade for Peace and Justice: A Memoir of Political and Personal Courage (2008).

Lee’s honors and distinctions include receiving the Dean’s Appreciation Award from the University of California at Berkeley School of Social Welfare, and the Willie L. Brown, Jr., Leadership Award, both in 2001. Lee was also nominated for the Alfred R. Nobel Peace Prize. In 2009, The National Urban League honored her with the Congressional Leadership Award; and, in 2012, she received the Lifetime Legacy Achievement Award from the United Nations Association. Lee is the mother of two sons, Tony Lee and Craig Lee.

U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 5, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.249

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/5/2013

Last Name

Lee

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Jean

Schools

University of California, Berkeley

Mills College

San Fernando High School

San Fernando Junior High School

St. Joseph’s Elementary School

First Name

Barbara

Birth City, State, Country

El Paso

HM ID

LEE05

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Grenada

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/16/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/Oakland

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

U.S. congresswoman and state senator The Honorable Barbara Lee (1946 - ) was the first woman to represent the State of California’s then-9th and now-13th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Employment

California State Senate

United States House of Representatives

California State Assembly

W.C. Parish/Lee Associates

Office of Representative Ronald Dellums

Far West Laboratory for Educational Research & Development

Glendale Welfare Office

California Department of Labor Statistics

Favorite Color

Orange

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Barbara Lee's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barbara Lee lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about tracing her African roots

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about her mother's experiences of color discrimination

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about her mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her father's family background and how he met her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers moving with her family to California

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her likeness to her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Barbara Lee lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers her house in El Paso, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about her maternal grandfather's move to El Paso, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers her neighborhood in El Paso, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about the role of religion in her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers her extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about her family's departure from El Paso, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her early political participation

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talk about her early influences

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her experiences at San Fernando High School in San Fernando, California

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes how travel influenced her interest in politics

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers her high school graduation

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers the political events of the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barbara Lee recalls her time living in Europe

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers her return to San Fernando, California

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers moving to Northern California

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers joining the Black Panther Party

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about her maternal grandfather's emphasis on education

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about her decision to attend Mills College in Oakland, California

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her experiences at Mills College in Oakland, California, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her experiences at Mills College in Oakland, California, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Barbara Lee recalls developing the African study abroad program at Mills College

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Barbara Lee recalls the influential figures she met through her activism

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about the Black Panther Party

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about her psychological training

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barbara Lee recalls the founding of the CHANGE, Inc. mental health center in Berkeley, California

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about the influence of Dr. Price Cobbs and William H. Grier

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barbara Lee describes the importance of mental healthcare in the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers the Cal in the Capital program

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers Huey P. Newton

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barbara Lee remembers working as Congressman Ronald Dellums' chief of staff

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$2

DAStory

5$7

DATitle
The Honorable Barbara Lee talks about the influence of Dr. Price Cobbs and William H. Grier
The Honorable Barbara Lee describes her early political participation
Transcript
Now, now did you have any act- interaction in those days with Price Cobbs [HistoryMaker Dr. Price Cobbs] and--$$Yeah.$$--and William Grier [William H. Grier]?$$That's right yeah, yeah. They were over at Pacific Psychotherapy [Pacific Psychotherapy Associates].$$Um-hm.$$Um-hm, on Sacramento Street [San Francisco, California], yep a lot of interaction with them.$$Okay.$$Yeah.$$The authors of 'Black Rage.'$$'Black Rage.'$$Everybody was reading that during the--$$Yeah.$$--seventies [1970s].$$I was too--$$Yeah.$$--and that was part of my rage, is looking at how psychiatric services and mental health services were being presented to the black community which didn't work, I mean I ended, you know, and my model was based on yeah you gotta provide the counseling and psychoanalysis and psychotherapy 'cause if people are depressed and if they're a psychotic or schizophrenic or, you know, they need help, I mean they really do. But that doesn't mean that they don't need a job, you know, it's kind of like the social and economic issues that underline a lot of the mental health problems in the African American community need to be dealt with. And so my clinic, while it provided the services we had, what I called advocates, psychiatric advocates who would really go out and if you needed a job, or needed daycare, if you needed a home, you know, would help people in their real needs, their reality stuff, and so those people would work in a team setting with the clinical people to try to help a person really regroup and it worked. And then we had a community component where we tried to do what we call primary prevention and that was on a community level, have workshops and forums about mental health issues so people would really begin to understand mental health, and so people would know if the early signs of depression, early signs of anger, early signs of whatever, stress, you know, come to the clinic quick so we can kind of sort it through and the, you know? So we did a whole community mental health component of my clinic, so it was great and it survived 'til Ronald Reagan [Ronald Wilson Reagan] cut out the funding, OEO [Office of Economic Opportunity], I think, but I went on to D.C. [Washington, D.C.] and hired a whole staff and board to keep it going.$California is, of course there's no signs in California right, in, well like that?$$Oh California was horrible. No really, it, the segregation out here was it was de facto in a lot of ways. I wanted to be a cheerleader at my high school and the way they selected 'em, they had criteria and I assume you had to have blonde hair and blue eyes and white, but I couldn't for whatever reason, no black girl could, felt confident enough or assured, assured enough that they could pass the test to be a cheerleader. So, I got very upset about that, went to the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] and they got the school to change their rules where students could then tryout in front of the student body and then the vote, students would vote on who they wanted to be their cheerleaders, so that was my first election. I actually tried out in front of the student body and I won. And so I was the first black cheerleader that El Pa- at San Fernando High [San Fernando High School, San Fernando, California], but that just kind of shows you how the segregation and the discrimination worked in California. There was housing, you know, in California, I think the fair housing law didn't pass, the Byron fair housing act didn't pass until, shoot, '64 [sic. California Fair Housing Act of 1963], when I graduated from high school, I think that was when it was, I mean in the '60s [1960s]. So it was horrible, it was bad in California and, and you know it was varied, I didn't see any coloreds only signs, but the segregation was alive, it was real and it was very deep.$$Okay, so this is in the San Fernando Valley [California]?$$Um-hm.$$Wha- wha- what was the name of the town that you lived in?$$Pacoima [California], although it--$$(Unclear) (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, Pacoima and San Fernando, we lived at 11920 Chadron Avenue, San Fernando, California, but it was like right next to Pacoima.$$Okay, okay.$$And it was a large, mainly black community, now it's largely Latino, and I think there's some of the old timers still there who are African Americans, but for the most part it's a Latino community now.$$Okay, now did you--in 1960, were you aware of politics? I know that was a big election the Kennedy [John Fitzgerald Kennedy] and Nixon [Richard Milhous Nixon] election which was, which was--$$Yeah.$$--national news and--$$Oh yeah.$$--I, I don't know--$$That was in the '60s [1960s].$$--if you were, you know?$$I was aware, but not really, it was like okay, you know, who's gonna win, fine, good, you know? I hope a Democrat wins but it wasn't nothing, nothing else, you--$$Wha- what--$$--know?$$Wha- was, what was your [maternal] grandfather [William Parish] and your, your family Democrats for the most part?$$Yeah, you know, actually my grandfather like many African Americans had been Republican because of, you know, it was the party of Lincoln [President Abraham Lincoln], by then he was a Democrat, I'm sure. But he, they oh yeah, they all would talk about elections and, you know, as being part of NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], I mean that was the core civil rights organization that they were affiliated with, we talked a lot about it all the time and knew that Kennedy had to win for black people, you know, and we knew the Democrats had to, to continue with our fight for, you know, justice and equality, but in terms of being kind of in tune with the election and all the politics of the election and the debates, ah no.

Dr. James Williams

As a military officer and physician, Dr. James B. Williams has spent his entire career in public service. Co-founding the Williams Medical Clinic in Chicago with his two brothers, Dr. Jasper F. Williams and Dr. Charles L. Williams, he was also part of a handful of dedicated young men who enlisted and became America’s first black airmen, known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

In 1942, with a pre-medicine background, Williams was drafted into the military and given a position with the medical corps at Camp Pickett, Virginia, and was chosen to attend Medical Administrative Officers Candidate School. Wanting to become a pilot, however, he asked to transfer to the Army Air Corps. He was subsequently appointed an aviation cadet and sent to Boca Raton Club, Florida, for basic training. From there, he went to Yale University for technical training, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Corps. As a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, Williams served as an Engineering Officer in the post war 99th Fighter Squadron. Also during his time in the service, Williams was among the 101 black officers who attempted to integrate a segregated officers’ club in what became known as the Freeman Field Mutiny.

Williams, a native of Las Cruces, New Mexico, was born on May 28, 1919 to Clara Belle Williams and Jasper B. Williams and was educated in a segregated grade and high school. He earned his B.S. degree in chemistry from New Mexico State University after finishing his military service, and with dreams of becoming a physician, he earned his M.D. degree from Creighton University School of Medicine. There, he met his future wife, Willeen Brown. Williams continued his medical education and was accepted into Creighton’s surgical residency program, earning his M.S. degree in surgery in 1956. With his various medical experiences, he and his brothers established the Williams Clinic on Chicago’s South Side. At its peak, there were more than twenty-eight doctors practicing at the clinic. Williams also worked at Chicago’s St. Bernard’s Hospital in 1957 as its first African American physician, becoming the hospital’s chief of surgery from 1971 to 1972. Williams combined his dedication to progress and medical prowess by meeting with President John F. Kennedy in 1963, as a member of a National Medical Association delegation to advance an amendment to the Hill-Burton Act that would prevent discrimination in hospitals built with federal assistance. Williams also served as physician to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when the civil rights leader lived in Chicago.

Williams and his wife lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The couple had two children: a daughter, Brenda Payton Jones, a former columnist for the Oakland Tribune, and a son, Dr. James B. Williams II, colorectal surgeon in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Williams passed away on November 23, 2016.

Accession Number

A2008.088

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/16/2008

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Middle Name

B

Schools

Booker T. Washington

Wiley College

University of New Mexico

Tuskegee University

New Mexico State University

Creighton University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

El Paso

HM ID

WIL47

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

Sponsor

Brenda Payton

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/28/1919

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

11/23/2016

Short Description

Surgeon and tuskegee airman Dr. James Williams (1919 - 2016 ) co-founded the Williams Clinic on Chicago's South Side. He also served as Dr. King's physician while Dr. King lived in Chicago. He was also a member of the Tuskegee Airmen as an Engineering Officer after World War II.

Employment

619th Bombardment Squadron

St. Bernard's Hospital

Williams Clinic

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:770,9:3465,78:4697,107:5390,118:8510,127:9336,136:21148,303:24820,332:25590,350:28180,402:40363,531:61068,739:62124,753:66500,846:68612,875:98250,1212$0,0:4704,73:5376,83:6048,94:27900,190:28300,196:28860,204:29180,209:33208,257:33856,266:35638,285:36043,291:45087,455:45719,466:48326,509:48958,518:49511,526:59952,631:60576,643:61122,653:61434,658:63618,702:69092,739:70555,762:72403,794:73096,806:74174,825:107438,1105:108030,1115:108992,1131:111212,1206:115758,1251:127762,1353:129556,1390:132832,1484:133924,1511:135250,1533:141234,1572:157722,1712:158182,1718:174220,1859:175721,1896:179987,1963:181014,1978:189360,2119
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. James Williams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams describes his mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams describes his father's civil rights activities

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams recalls Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. James Williams lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. James Williams describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. James Williams remembers moving to Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams recalls his family's dog

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams remembers the doctor who treated his brother's clubfoot

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams recalls the Booker T. Washington School in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams describes his parents' careers

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams describes his family life

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams describes the role of religion in his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. James Williams describes his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams describes school segregation in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams recalls meeting George Washington Carver as a teenager

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams describes his high school education at the Booker T. Washington School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams remembers Wiley College in Marshall, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams recalls the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams describes training in aircraft maintenance

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. James Williams recalls his promotion to engineering officer in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. James Williams remembers serving in the U.S. Army during World War II

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams remembers segregation at Freeman Army Airfield

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams recalls his arrest during the Freeman Field Mutiny

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams recalls his imprisonment during the Freeman Field Mutiny

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams describes his legal defense during the Freeman Field Mutiny

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams recalls serving at the Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams remembers Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. James Williams describes his and his brothers' early medical careers

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. James Williams recalls applying to medical schools

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams recalls his older brother's injury on the family homestead

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams remembers Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams describes his early medical career

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams recalls becoming Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s physician

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams recalls treating an infant who suffered a gunshot wound in utero

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams remembers serving as a physician for prominent civil rights leaders

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dr. James Williams remembers Elijah Muhammad

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dr. James Williams remembers his patients in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dr. James Williams describes his family members' medical careers

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dr. James Williams describes the healthcare system in Cuba

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams talks about health insurance in the United States

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams describes his membership in professional organizations

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams reflects upon the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams reflects upon the history of the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dr. James Williams reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Dr. James Williams describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

6$9

DATitle
Dr. James Williams recalls treating an infant who suffered a gunshot wound in utero
Dr. James Williams describes how he would like to be remembered
Transcript
We had a baby that my brother [Jasper F. Williams] and I operated, it was the first baby in the world--the mother was pregnant with the baby and she was shot. And the bullet went in the, the child's flank, went through the liver, the colon, collapsed the right lung and ended up behind the bone in the right upper arm. That's the first baby in the world to survive a gunshot wound to the abdomen and chest in utero, was the one that we did.$$Um-hm.$$I don't think anybody's changed that since then. And my brother delivered the baby, and he handed him to me, and when I got 'em he wasn't breathing, he had no heartbeat, and I started resuscitating him, and his heart started beating and the kid, we invited him to the conference at the University of Illinois, you know, my wife [Willeen Brown Williams] picked up the mother and the child, the little guy was interested in everything that was going on that evening. And the mother said he's the smartest kid she had, she had five other kids, you know, but he survived. And now, he was, that's when we celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary, and now we just finished our fifty-seventh, so he's, must be about twenty, he's probably twenty-seven years old now.$Our last question is similar to legacy but a little different. Sir, how would you like to be remembered?$$I hadn't thought of that (laughter). But, in my field of surgery I thought I was, could compete with anybody, of course I had good training, I had a master's degree in surgery, which very few surgeons have. And after that I went up to the Royal Vic [Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Canada], in McGill [McGill University, Montreal, Canada] and they had a Jewish surgeon up there who was taking the internal mammary artery and re-vascularizing the heart, that was the fir- I had an opportunity to be up there when he was doing that, which was very unusual. And now they can do bypasses, but what he was doing, he got collateral circulation and he got some mock-ups, you know to show that he was getting collateral circulation in the animals that he did 'em on. I hope we can get somebody in medical school down in Cuba 'cause I think that's a great opportunity that's being overlooked, and still don't know why that some of the black males who were in the program dropped out, I haven't had a chance to talk to the guy from Ohio State [The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio], you know, who takes the kids down there.$$But you wanna be remembered as a good surgeon?$$Oh yeah.$$And?$$And a good parent, yeah. I think that's important. I think that's important for all black parents. I mean, I agree with what Obama's [HistoryMaker President Barack Obama] telling the folks that they have to be responsible for their kids. Of course it's interesting, our kids, we had a motor home and we'd go to skiing in the wintertime, and in the summertime we'd go to Canada, fishing, and both of them liked those things even though they did 'em as kids and they--my son [James Williams II] has a motor home, he still likes to go fishing and skiing. And plus, the fact, I told you he was an excellent surgeon and has made well. Just like I told you, he was considered the best colorectal surgeon in the State of New Mexico.$$Okay, so you'd like to be remembered as a good surgeon and a good parent.$$That's right.