In Speak Truth to Power the new film about Congresswoman Barbara Lee, filmmaker Abby Ginsberg has offered us that bright flower of determination that we thought had, maybe, started to wilt. The black woman, remembering her mother, especially, but also her father and innumerable ancestors, who make up the murmuring chorus some of us hear when the devil tries to tempt us to go wrong.
I remember how joyous I felt that nothing could persuade Barbara Lee to say yes to bombing the people of Iraq. Having been arrested myself in protest of the murder of that country I stood solidly behind her, as did our beloved brother, Danny Glover. At a rally for her in Berkeley we were able to demonstrate, along with thousands of our Berkeley and Oakland and San Francisco neighbors that we were not only behind her, but that we loved her.
One of those standing with us was the father of my then partner, Mr. Lee, an elderly Chinese American who had come to this country as a young man and had worked all his life waiting tables in fancy and not so fancy restaurants. Fiercely political if still hesitant in his speaking of English, he was very clear about his kinship with Barbara Lee. They shared a politics of honesty and bravery. Of struggle. They had the same last name too, he often noted, along with an unshakable identification with the working class.
That day, when so many of us stood together around this small, brown woman who spoke her mind with the assurance that it was hers to speak, lives again in this radiant film.