Lina Blanco, a civic-minded freshwoman at Mills College, raised $265 in a fundraiser to reelect Congresswomen Barbara Lee.
Blanco describes herself as a leader seeking peace and justice. She was recently elected ASMC Vice President for the Class of 2012. Combining her interests in activism and leadership, she began her first year at Mills organizing the Mills Women for Barbara Lee Fundraiser.
“This fundraiser was a symbol of solidarity,” said Blanco, “meant to involve freshwomen in political activism.”
Lee herself has expressed her belief in the need for young women to become involved politically, having said, “Women need to become engaged in the system at an early age. [They] need to work hard in school and apply for key positions as interns and as staff members for elected officials, locally and at the state and federal level.”
Blanco, who like Lee believes in the need for women to be involved, sent out an e-mail via the student news from Sept. 5th to the 9th welcoming donations from everybody willing to give.
She and friends Alexis Redeemer and Alyssa “Jade” Valdez also campaigned door-to-door that same week.
From her efforts, Blanco was able to raise $265 from 26 people. She presented the money to Lee on Sept. 13, while Lee was in Washington.
Asked why students contributed, Blanco surmised that the reasons varied. “Some donated because of her progressive message, and some donated because Barbara Lee is a Mills graduate,” said Blanco.
Whatever the personal reasons of others, Blanco’s concerns were specific. “I wanted to support Barbara Lee because she is a strong woman who is a guiding light for the movement of peace and justice,” she said. “She follows in the legacy of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the Black Panther Movement.”
Lee is an advocate for women’s and reproductive rights, has fought for HIV/AIDS awareness, and has been a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq since its beginning. In June of 2006 she was arrested in front of the Sudanese embassy for protesting the genocide and has repeatedly traveled to the Darfur region.
To ensure the rights of women, Lee has been quoted as saying that “two things that need to be done right away are to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and to ratify the Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women.”
Blanco contends that actions and beliefs such as these make Lee an important contemporary figure. “When others don’t think an action would be a good political move,” said Blanco, “Barbara Lee realizes that it is the only move worth taking, and the one that’s needed the most.”
Lee, herself a staunch supporter of women in politics, is just the type of role model Blanco admires and believes other women should admire. Lee advocates the involvement of women in the political process and in their communities, having said their concerns must “transcend the traditional boundaries of what constitutes “women’s issues,” because all of the issues facing our nation affect women.”
Blanco said her fundraiser was just one small step towards engaging herself and others in political activism. “Giving money is a small action,” said Blanco. “What you really need to do is get on the streets and become engaged voting participants. Participation requires action.”