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During B-N visit, Rep. Barbara Lee says US sent a clear message with Ukraine response

Barbara Lee
J. Scott Applewhite
Rep. Barbara Lee, a Democrat from California, was in Normal on Saturday for an event hosted by the Mentoring And Providing Scholarships (MAPS) program.

The head of the House subcommittee that oversees humanitarian aid says the U.S. sent a clear message about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with recent sanctions and continued diplomatic efforts.

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California, visited Bloomington-Normal on Saturday for a screening of a documentary about her life. Last month, Lee attended the Munich Security Conference and said U.S. leadership helped galvanize European response to Ukraine.

Like President Joe Biden, the congresswoman stops short of committing American forces to combat. But sanctions and diplomacy, along with humanitarian and economic assistance, can help Ukraine and bring a halt to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions.

“This is not just about Ukraine. This about him re-establishing or trying to re-establish the Soviet Union, and it’s a threat to our democracy also,” Lee told WGLT.

The congresswoman spoke at Illinois State University’s Bone Student Center on Saturday before a screening of “Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power,” the documentary about her life and rise from a 20-year-old single mother to the highest-ranking African American woman in Democratic leadership.

Lee, who has served in Congress since 1998, has been a vocal critic of past conflict, particularly the Iraq War. And following the Sept. 11 attacks, she was the only member of Congress to vote against the authorization of use of force, saying it gave the president too much authority.

The event was hosted by the MAPS (Mentoring And Providing Scholarships) program, a group that provides mentoring to high school seniors.

Long a civil rights activist, Lee said she hoped people – particularly Black women – see her story as inspiration to continue their own struggles for equality. She added that what may seem like a personal struggle has bigger implications.

“But to know that dealing with them, and breaking through, is not just about yourself, it’s about the other – it’s about more people … it’s about making this country better and dismantling these systems of racism, sexism, oppression, discrimination.”

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Jim Stahly Jr. is a correspondent with WGLT. He joined the station in 2022.
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