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*Karen Bass was born on this date in 1953. She is a Black politician and social worker.
Karen Ruth Bass was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Wilhelmina (née Duckett) and DeWitt Talmadge Bass. Her father was a postal letter carrier, and her mother was a homemaker. She was raised in the Venice and Fairfax neighborhoods of Los Angeles and graduated from Alexander Hamilton High School in 1971.
Witnessing the 20th-century civil rights movement on television with her father as a child sparked her interest in community activism. While in middle school, Bass began volunteering for Bobby Kennedy's presidential campaign. In the mid-1970, she was an organizer for the Venceremos Brigade, a pro-Cuban group that organized trips by Americans to Cuba. Bass visited Cuba eight times in the 1970s.
She went on to study philosophy at San Diego State University and graduated from the USC Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program. Bass then earned a Bachelor of Science degree in health sciences from California State University, Dominguez Hills. She also received her master's in social work from the University of Southern California.
In the 1980s, while working as a physician assistant and a clinical instructor, Bass witnessed the impact of the crack epidemic in South Los Angeles. In the late 1980s, Bass and other local community organizers founded Community Coalition. This organization's mission was to help transform the social and economic conditions in South Los Angeles that foster addiction, crime, violence, and poverty by building a community institution that involves thousands in creating, influencing, and changing public policy.
From 1980 to 1986, Bass was married to Jesus Lechuga. Following their divorce, Bass and Lechuga jointly raised their daughter and her siblings, Bass's four stepchildren, Scythia, Omar, Yvette, and Ollin. Her daughter, Emilia Bass-Lechuga, and son-in-law, Michael Wright, were killed in a car crash in 2006.
In 2004, Bass was elected to represent California's 47th Assembly district. She became the only Black woman serving in the state legislature at her inauguration. She was reelected in 2006 and 2008 before her term limit expired. In 2010, Congresswoman Diane Watson retired from Congress and encouraged Bass to run for her seat. Bass raised $932,281.19 and spent $768,918.65. Her 2010 campaign contributions came from diverse groups, with none donating more than 15% of her total campaign funds. Bass won the election with over 86% of the vote on November 2, 2010.
In July 2020, Bass was discussed as a potential running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. In November 2020, Biden considered Bass for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Secretary of Health and Human Services. On September 27, 2021, Bass announced her candidacy for mayor of Los Angeles in the 2022 election, which she won. Her campaign addressed the causes of Los Angeles's homelessness problem and ends homeless encampments around elementary schools, public parks, and beaches. Former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa endorsed, who now is the first woman mayor in Los Angeles’ history.
Image: New York Times