Documentaries exploring the life and legacy of fierce fighters of justice often reach us years after they have passed away. A new documentary explores the life and legacy of Rep. Barbara Lee, a progressive icon living.
“Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power” is a feature-length film exploring Lee’s rise and the challenges she has faced throughout her career. Interviews include the late Rep. John Lewis, Sen. Cory Booker, actor Danny Glover, author Alice Walker, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley.
Distributed by Greenwich Entertainment, “Speaking Truth to Power” will be released in theaters and streaming platforms on Aug. 20.
A fierce supporter of doing right by any means necessary, Lee has long been a blueprint for speaking truth to power. From being a young mother organizing with the Black Panther Party to working on Shirley Chisholm’s historic presidential campaign, the imprint of her formative experiences can still be seen in her congressional advocacy.
As the nation grapples with the news of a brewing crisis in Afghanistan, Lee’s courageous floor speech standing against action in Afghanistan comes to mind. On Sept. 14, three days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Lee took the floor and was the sole member of the House of Representatives to voice opposition to giving former President Georgia H.W. Bush a blank check for war.
In just 90 seconds, Lee would take a simple stance that would reverberate across the next 20 years.
“As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore,” Lee said, quoting a clergy member from a memorial service she attended days earlier. Little did she know, her courage and bravery in that single moment would reach legendary status.
The refrain ‘Barbara Lee Speaks for Me’ continues to resonate, not simply because a Black woman dared to speak up for what is right. But Lee stood firm in an environment that would become increasingly hostile to anyone who expressed opposition to America’s shortsighted rush into multiple never-ending wars across several countries.
And it wasn’t just a single 90-second speech. Lee continued to restate her opposition to needless military spending. Often suggesting that the bloated military budget, not essential programs like Medicare, should be cut along with making the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes.
During an interview with the Washington Journal in 2011, Lee opposed spending cuts for needed programs but argued for cuts to the Pentagon budget, which she described as “out of control.” She also called for targeted investments in infrastructure, job creation, and education, citing racial disparities.
To say Lee is consistent would be an understatement. She has remained the consciousness of Congress on issues both foreign and domestic.
Higher Heights, a Black women-led organization, tasked with expanding Black women’s electoral and civic participation, is hosting a virtual screening on Aug. 18 at 6 pm eastern time.