Like many of you, I’m spending today thinking about my mother. She was all of 5 feet, but she could move mountains, as she proved when she crossed an ocean at age 19 to study in America.
There’s a photo I cherish of her and one of her best friends in life, my Auntie Lenore, standing in front of a sign that says, “Protest Birmingham atrocities. Write the president.”
She and my father met while they were active in the civil rights movement. My sister Maya and I actually joke that we grew up surrounded by a bunch of adults marching and shouting for this thing called justice. We were raised on the stories of the upheaval and activism of the 1960s.
My mother became a pioneering breast cancer researcher. She maintained her lab at Lawrence Berkeley until the day she died; she knew that the search for truth was a lifelong effort.
From her, I learned to ask questions, gather evidence, and test hypotheses. I learned no idea is too precious to be rigorously examined. I learned how to fight for justice and live a life of conscience, and I think of her every day.
Today I am also thinking about how our country can do more to support our mothers. We’re the richest country on the planet, yet our maternal mortality rate is the highest in the developed world, and Black mothers are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications.
That’s unacceptable. We have to do more to solve this crisis.
My mother taught me to speak the truth, be honest, and be clear of purpose. That’s what we have to do, especially in times like these, to create change and advance the cause of justice and equality.
I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day.
Thanks for everything you do,
U.S. Senator, California