Washington, D.C. September 1, 2016 – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced today that she will be donating more than two decades of her congressional papers to the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. She also will be the first speaker at the new Barbara Boxer Lecture Series at UC Berkeley, an annual event launching in 2017 that will focus on women in leadership.

After a 40-year career in elected office, I am so proud to leave my papers to the greatest public university in the world,” said Senator Boxer. “I chose UC Berkeley because I got my political start in the Bay Area, because I believe strongly in the power of public education, because my son, Doug, is a proud alum, and because Berkeley agreed to make this a ‘living archive’ with the annual Barbara Boxer Lecture Series. I hope these archives will provide insights for historians, students and future generations who want to know what it was like for women when we were just beginning to break the glass ceiling.

Boxer made the announcement at the Bancroft Library today along with UC President Janet Napolitano, Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ, and the Senator’s son, Doug Boxer (UC Berkeley, Class of ’88). They were accompanied by Bancroft Library Director Elaine Tennant and Institute of Governmental Studies Associate Director Ethan Rarick.

You are a heroine to a lot of us in public life, and we celebrate the legacy that you are sharing so generously with the University of California at Berkeley and with the Bancroft Library,” President Napolitano said at the event. “The Boxer papers will be a lasting legacy of the Senator’s leadership and I’m sure an enduring inspiration to future scholars. We owe our deepest appreciation to you, Senator Boxer, and to your family for this incredible gift.

Tennant said the Boxer papers “are an important addition to our political papers collection” that includes archives of the late U.S. Senators Alan Cranston and William Knowland, past California Governors Hiram Johnson and Edmund G. (Pat) Brown, U.S. Representatives George Miller, Robert Matsui, Thomas Lantos and more.

Some of Sen. Barbara Boxer’s archives are already on display at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. (UC Berkeley Public Affairs photo.)
Some of Sen. Barbara Boxer’s archives are already on display at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. (UC Berkeley Public Affairs photo.)

Tennant added that the Boxer papers will complement the many existing Bancroft collections that “document the lives and work of women from antiquity to the present.” The Bancroft Library already has on display some of Boxer’s photographs, campaign buttons and memorabilia, as well as other materials from her career in politics.

Boxer and campus officials also formally announced the new Barbara Boxer Lecture Series at UC Berkeley, which is cosponsored by the Bancroft Library and the campus’s Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS). Jack Citrin, the director of IGS, said he is honored to have the institute join with the Bancroft Library and Boxer to initiate the Barbara Boxer Lecture Series at UC Berkeley next spring.

The purpose of this series could not be more timely given the global need for courageous and forward-looking political leadership” Citrin said.

Senator Boxer’s prepared remarks from the event are below, and video of the event is available here:

Doug, I am so proud to be standing here with you today because if it weren’t for you, Nicole and your dad, I never would have run for Congress in the 80’s. The love and support of my family made it possible for me to take the slings and arrows that go with public service – and there have been lots of those.

It is an honor to be here with President Napolitano. We are so fortunate to have you, a respected former governor and the first woman to serve in several offices – as the Arizona Attorney General, the United States Secretary of Homeland Security and now, President of the University of California.

I also want to thank Provost Christ, Bancroft Library Director Elaine Tennant and Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) Associate Director Ethan Rarick, for all their help in making today possible.

And, although IGS Director Jack Citrin isn’t here today, I want to thank him as well. He was instrumental in getting us to this day.

This is a very special day for me and my whole family. And it’s an emotional day for me too, because when I was a little girl growing up in Brooklyn, I never imagined that I would go into politics. There were so few role models.

And now here I am, after a 40 year career in elected office, leaving my papers to the greatest public university in the world.

When I first ran for the Marin County Board of Supervisors, there had only been one woman elected to the board in its history.

During that first campaign, I still remember being asked questions like: 

“When do you have time to do your dishes?”  

“Why are you running – isn’t Stew making enough money?” 

“Aren’t you abandoning your children?”

Well, I lost that race – but I learned a lot from it. I learned how to be tough! And I won the next 11 straight elections.

The reason I got into politics was that I saw so many things happening all around me that cried out for action: 

I saw the pain and hatred of discrimination, which gave birth to the Civil Rights movement.

I saw our country losing great leaders – like President Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy – who spoke to the better angels of our nature.

I saw the War in Vietnam escalating and claiming so many lives as America was thrust into the middle of a civil war.

I saw offshore drilling threatening California’s beautiful coast, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio catching fire from pollution, pesticides like DDT devastating birds and other wildlife – and all of these poisons making their way into the air we breathe and water we drink.

And, I saw the women’s rights movement and leaders like Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem inspiring women to follow their dreams. 

I knew I couldn’t stay silent in the face of it all. I knew I had to join the fight.

That is why it is so fitting that we are here today in Berkeley, a campus that has attracted so many idealistic young people over the years to fight for civil rights, women’s rights, human rights, environmental and social justice.

With just a few months remaining in my final Senate term, I have begun to look back on the things I have witnessed – and worked on – in my forty-year career in politics: 

Like the AIDS epidemic. During my earliest days in the House, representing a district that included Marin and part of San Francisco, I saw the devastating toll of HIV/AIDS on so many of my constituents. I fought to secure some of the first federal funds to fight this deadly disease – while we had a President who wouldn’t say the word “AIDS” for years.

Like the Clarence Thomas nomination hearings.  When the Senate Judiciary Committee refused to allow Anita Hill to testify about the sexual harassment she had faced, I was part of a group of House women who marched up the Senate steps to demand that she be heard – and heard she was! She changed so much for women in the workplace and in politics.

Like the War in Iraq.  My vote against the Iraq War back in 2002 was one of my proudest votes during my 24 years in the Senate, but it took nearly a decade of struggle to finally bring that combat mission to an end.

I have served through some times of great turmoil – from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to the devastating Loma Prieta and Northridge earthquakes here in California.

I have also witnessed some breakthrough moments – from the election of our first African-American President to the confirmation of the first Latina ever to sit on the Supreme Court and then the Supreme Court’s touching, landmark decision on marriage equality.

As the first woman to ever chair the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the longest serving current member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I have had the privilege of playing a central role in debates over war and peace, over climate change and protecting our air and water, over gay rights and a woman’s right to choose.

It has been the honor of my life to serve the people of California. And I am so proud to be leaving my papers to UC Berkeley.

I chose Berkeley for several reasons:

First, I got my political start in the Bay Area.  This is the place where voters first gave me a chance to serve, and the place that stirred my passions in fighting for our families and our environment.

Second, this is a public university.  I am the proud product of public schools – from kindergarten to college – and I believe strongly in the power and value of public education 

Third, I saw firsthand the great education UC Berkeley gives its students, including my son, Doug, and I have never forgotten that.

Fourth, this is an extraordinary university – for 18 years straight, U.S. News and World Report has named Berkeley the #1 public university in the country!  It ranks No. 1 in the number of Peace Corps volunteers. It is the top public research university in North America – home to 29 Nobel Prize winners.

And Berkeley’s prowess not only extends to intellectual recognition, but at the Rio games, Cal athletes took home 21 Olympic medals – more than many countries.

And the final reason I chose Berkeley: They made clear that my materials wouldn’t just be put in a box.

I wanted this to be a “living” archive. So we worked with IGS Director Jack Citrin to ensure an even stronger relationship.

I am proud to announce that, as part of this agreement, the Bancroft Library and the Institute of Governmental Studies will host the Barbara Boxer Lecture Series at UC Berkeley – an annual event that will put women leaders in the spotlight to discuss and share the challenges of their time.

To kick things off, I will give the very first lecture next year.

I am so excited about this new partnership.

I hope these archives will provide insights for historians, researchers, students and future generations who want to know what it was like for women when we were just beginning to break that glass ceiling in politics – and what it was like to push hard for progressive positions.

They can read more about my efforts as a young House member to integrate the male-only House gym, which we achieved by singing a humorous song that included the lyrics, “We’re not slim, we’re not trim, can’t we make it hers and him? Can’t everybody use… your gym?” 

They can learn more about my first Senate race when Dianne Feinstein and I made history as the first two women elected from the same state. 

That was 1992 – the “Year of the Woman” – and there were just two women serving in the Senate. We tripled that number to six – arguing as Dianne did, that 2 percent may be fine for the fat content of milk, but it was not alright for women to be 2 percent of the Senate.

Now we have 20 women serving in the Senate – not enough, but we have made progress.  A woman, for the first time, is a nominee for a major party to be President. And we know that my successor in the Senate will be a woman of color. History will be made again in California.

As the Reverend Theodore Parker first wrote in 1853 – and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us in 1964 – “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

But here’s the thing – it does not bend on its own.

It bends towards justice because of all the courageous Americans who marched and struggled and died fighting for our rights. 

It bends towards justice because of leaders who were willing to stand up when it mattered most.

I believe these archives and our lecture series will help highlight some of these struggles and the progress we have made – and hopefully inspire not only the students here at Cal, but everyone to join the fight.

Thank you again to everyone here at UC Berkeley for making this day a reality.