Barbara Boxer: An Oral History

Love her or hate her, former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer was one of the most influential and impactful politicians in California history. As such, when we sat down with her to conduct an oral history interview, we knew we needed someone as iconic as her to ask the questions. So we were thrilled to have the estimable Carla Marinucci of Politico do the honors.

In 34 years representing the Bay Area in Congress — 10 years in the House of Representatives and 24 in the U.S. Senate — Democrat Barbara Boxer forged a reputation as a feisty liberal firebrand.

Boxer jumped into politics in 1976, becoming the first female president of the Marin County Board of Supervisors. By 1991, the Congresswoman from Marin cemented her image as a feminist icon after charging up the steps of the U.S. Capitol with a female delegation to demand a full Senate investigation of sexual harassment allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

A year later, Boxer and fellow Bay Area Democrat Dianne Feinstein were swept into office in what was dubbed “The Year of the Woman,’’ making California the first state in the nation to be represented in the Senate by two women. After an active Senate tenure that included heading the Environment and Public Works committee, Boxer retired in 2016, but vowed “as long as there are issues and challenges and strife, I will never retire — because this is the meaning of my life.”

Find the video oral history, recorded August 16, 2022 at the Pardee Home Museum in Oakland, California, here.


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