Today, I am reflecting on the life and legacy of my former colleague and good friend, Ying Lee Kelley.
Born and raised in Berkeley, I was blessed to have grown up in a time of significant social change in our country, at the epicenter of where that change was taking place. In the mid 70’s Ying Lee Kelley was one of the people that everyone knew as an agent of change; she was the first Asian American elected to the Berkeley City Council, an advocate for Free Speech, an educator, a leader in the Civil Rights movement, and a respected human rights leader – locally and internationally. It was during this time that I had the great honor and privilege to begin working for Congressman Ron Dellums, where I was accepted by an incredible group of staff members, including Ying. Much of my growth, not just in politics, but in life, was influenced by Ying. Her knowledge and awareness of international and domestic politics and its impact on our daily lives has influenced many policy makers. Ying’s boundless energy and infectious personality pulled people into activism. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to have served with Ying in Congressman Dellums’ office, and later to have worked with her when she worked with Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
From the very beginning of my service as a member of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, she had been a constant advisor and trusted friend. More often than not, Ying would attend our events, town hall meetings, and social gatherings, many times bringing a tasty dish.
Ying’s commitment to social change and justice lives on through all of those she touched while on her journey. Her activism was/is built on love; love of our planet, love of all people, and her drive to make this a better place in which we all must live. Ying might say, “There is still much work to do, no time to rest, let us get to it!” I can see her footprints in the sand. May she Rest in Peace and Power.
– Keith Carson