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Senator Dianne Feinstein Touched Many Black Lives

Senator Dianne Feinstein received a star on the Watts’ Promenade of Prominence–which honored neighborhood heroes with Danny Bakewell, Sr. and the late Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald. Photo by Gloria Zuurveen

By Gloria Zuurveen, Editor-in-Chief

The United State Senator Dianne Feinstein, who passed last week at the age of 90, touched many Black lives. She changed many lives by her caring and sharing of her years of political savvy. She steered one of California major cities, San Francisco, through the turbulence of both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk assassinations. After two horrible deaths she steered the ship of San Francisco for nine years influencing the masses that she is the one to get the job done. Yes she did get the job done but not without the late Percy Pinkney the founder of BAPAC, the Black American Political Association of California. It was through BAPAC and her undying support of its mission of inclusion of Blacks in all phases of government and policies that encouraged and motivated many Black politicians who are in prominent positions today. According to Antonio Harvey from the California Black Media (CBM) he wrote that Rory Kaufman, Sacramento Regional Director said, “BAPAC’s growth and influence were bolstered by the support of former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, former two-time Gov. Jerry Brown, and Feinstein. The organization was founded by Percy Pinkney, an outspoken champion for solutions to challenges facing Black Californians, who also served as a senior state field representative for Feinstein.” “The bottom line is that Dianne Feinstein helped keep BAPAC alive because she had Percy Pinkney on her staff,” Kaufman said. “If history serves me correctly, it was either Brown or Feinstein that sent Pinkney to Indiana where he discovered an organization similar to BAPAC and brought it back here (to the West Coast) to start the organization.”

John Hope Bryant, Founder and CEO of Operation HOPE, welcomes Senator Dianne Feinstein during an event held at the home of Bernard, Shirley (standing and clapping in background), and Khalil Kinsey the family behind the Kinsey African American Art & History Collection.
Photo by Gloria Zuurveen

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said about her former colleague in Congress.  “I am saddened by the passing of Senator Dianne Feinstein, one of our nation’s great leaders and someone I was blessed to call a colleague and friend. “Senator Feinstein was a trailblazer on whose shoulders I, and women in elected office all across America, will always stand. She worked harder than anyone I knew on Capitol Hill, and she will be remembered as one of the most effective and impactful Senators in American history. “Senator Feinstein’s grit and heart enabled her to bring her city together after she was thrust into San Francisco’s mayor’s office in the wake of a horrific tragedy. She saved countless lives through her work to keep assault weapons off of our streets, and she was a patriot who boldly stood against the use of torture and, in doing so, reminded America what we are supposed to stand for. She loved all of California, and led landmark legislation to create Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park and protect millions of acres across our desert landscape representing the largest effort to protect public lands in the lower 48 states. “In Senator Feinstein’s honor, I am directing the flags flying at all City facilities to be lowered to half-staff. “May her memory be a blessing, as her life certainly was. I extend my deepest condolences to her family and to all who loved her.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the late Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, Bishop E. Lynn Brown, Rev. Bob Holt listening to Danny Bakewell. Sr. speaking at an event in Watts honoring Senator Feinstein on the Los Angeles Promenade of Prominence: “Walk of Fame” founded by Dr. James A. Mays pictured in the background standing next to Brenda Marsh-Mitchell founder of Mothers in Action. Photo by Gloria Zuurveen

Kellie Todd Griffin, founding convener of the California Black Women’s Collective (CBWC), who  serves as a resource for lawmakers, elected officials, business leaders, and advocacy organizations and Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood), vice chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC), also issued a statements to CBM on the passing of Senator Feinstein. Griffin said, “We are all saddened by the passing of Senator Diane Feinstein, who paved the way for women to serve their communities in California and nationally,”. “It is imperative that we all take a moment to honor her contributions that positioned California as a beacon for others to follow.”

Sen. Bradford called “Feinstein an “icon for her service and leadership.” “Senator Dianne Feinstein dedicated her life to public service. As the longest-serving woman in the U.S. Senate, she was a trailblazer who served our state with strength, vision, and compassion,” said Bradford. “Her career was forged through the tragedy of gun violence which fueled her unwavering resolve to pass groundbreaking gun control. A true giant has left us.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein with Khalil, Shirley and Bernard Kinsey at their home. Photo by Gloria Zuurveen

“Senator Dianne Feinstein was a friend to the underserved, making sure we were heard, seen — and resourced. And she would not rely on some series of detached advisors to form her view, or to understand us.  She showed up   personally. I know, because she showed up for me.”, said John Hope Bryant, Founder and CEO of Operation HOPE. “Whether it was a Bankers Bus Tour, or a community tour where she would allow me to hang out in discussions around community needs with Sweet Alice Harris of Watts (who is also an angel on this earth). Standing next to Sen. Feinstein, as a young man founding a now global movement, gave me my first sense of, hint of, and material contribution to — my mainstream credibility. She changed my life, and gave me hope that mainstream America was listening. And I will never forget that. Or her.”  Black lives really mattered to Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Dr. James A. Mays pictured with Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald and Ms. Edna Aliewine during the Los Angeles Promenade of Prominence: “Walk of Fame” event to honor Senator Feinstein. Photo by Gloria Zuurveen

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