Lateefah Simon is ready to go: Running for D12 Barbara Lee”s Congressional seat
By Lee Hubbard
It’s Lateefah Simon’s time. The San Francisco native from the Western Addition, has been a long time black and social justice activist in San Francisco and all over the bay area. Now residing in the east bay, she feels it’s her time to make an impact on the national scene. When US Congresswoman Barbara Lee announced she was leaving congress to run for the open US Senate seat in California, it caused a domino effect. Simon, who is currently a director for district 7 on the Bart Board of Directors, decided it was time to act.
“When Barbara Lee agreed to run for Senate, that left an opening in a seat that Ron Dellums and Barbara Lee have held for over fifty years,” said Simon. “I wasn’t gonna let any Democrat run for this seat. So I decided I was gonna run. I am gonna win this seat, and I am going to be a voice for the people.”
Lee’s 12th congressional district encompasses the cities of Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Oakland,Piedmont and San Leandro making up close to seven hundred thousand people. There will be primary Democratic primary election in March of 2024 and the general election for the congressional seat in November of 2024
Simon has over twenty years of activism experience in front and behind the scenes, but she has a tale like a lot of inner city youth. Raised in the FIllmore’s Bannekker housing development, Simon had a few run-ins with the law and she was a teenage mother. But she had a knack for learning and activism at an early age.
She started and headed the Center for Young Women’s Development (CYWD) in San Francisco, which dealt with trying to get teen and women sex workers off the street and providing them services. At the age of twenty six, she was the youngest woman to win a MacArthur “Genius” grant, given to people to pursue creative, intellectual and professional pursuits.
Simon took the lead heading Back on Track, with the then San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, which was one of the first reentry programs for men in the criminal justice system She helped to run the program for five years, until Harris became a US Senator. She earned a BA in public policy at Mills College and a MPA from the University of San Francisco.
Simon has worked and or been mentored by two of the most powerful black women in the state of California. Barbara Lee was her professor at Mills. She worked for Harris in San Francisco in the district attorney’s office. .
“Barbara Lee has been a leading voice in Congress,” added Simon “She is also unapologetically black, as I am. I am running up my sleeves for this run.”
She was also the Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. Simon currently serves as a Director for the Bart Board and a board of trustee member for the California State University System. The mother of two women, a 27-year old law school student and a 12 year old girl, she is a widow. Her husband writer and activist Kevin Weston died of Leukemia in 2014.
Simon is a political progressive who has advocated for social justice issues for black people. She has advocated for black men to get out of the criminal justice, as long as helping black women. She believes she is the perfect person to run and lead in the 12th US Congressional DIstrict.
“I have spent my life advocating for people across race and class lines,” continued Simon. “I am not taking anything for granted. I am gonna work hard and out work a lot of people. I am ready to go.”