In 1990, Bass founded a local nonprofit called Community Coalition as a community activist in South Los Angeles with the mantra “No Celebrity Style Leadership”. The sentence was written in the founding documents and was part of every orientation. “If you are here to make a name for yourself,” Bass said to new employees, “you should find another job.” When she was elected to the California State Assembly in 2004, she incorporated this attitude into her political career. In Congress, she is considered a politician who builds bridges and can receive awards and concessions from both sides of the aisle, even if the issues that interest her most – from gang violence to care – are not usually the focus of the national discussion.
Some see her reserved, disciplined approach as an advantage for the VP slot: she is less likely to draw negative attention to the campaign path, and she has specified that she is not inclined to use the Vice Presidency as a launch pad for her own ambitions as President. But their low profile can also look like liability. The bass is so far from the public’s political radar screen that its inclusion in Biden’s list of potential running companions made people across the country scratch their heads.
Fewer Angelenos who know them and their work here.
“I find it interesting that people are amazed that she’s on the list,” says Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Los Angeles City Councilor who lives in the Bass district, which ranges from Westwood’s wealthy mansions to impoverished blocks South Los Angeles stretches. Her value cannot be measured by public signing of accounts and TV sound bits, he argues: “It’s all about work and not about getting the loan.”
Bass ’37. Congress district is one of the most diverse in California: a quarter white and a quarter black, 40 percent Latino and 8 percent Asian-American. Long before she gained her seat in the House of Representatives, she understood the strengths and sufferings of the district and how they relate to the needs of the nation.
In the 1980s, when she was working as a medical assistant, The Los Angeles-based bass watched the city’s black neighborhoods deteriorate. Well-paid factory jobs disappeared and school expenses shrank. She could catalog the scourge of crack cocaine from the people she knew and who suddenly disappeared. The epidemic of drug addiction, which took root at the time, became the trigger for her activism. It changed the landscape of entire communities – it destroyed families, destroyed the promise of young people, fed the urge for mass detention and promoted the rise of dangerous criminal gangs.
In response, Bass invited a group of African Americans and Latino activists to gather in a living room, where they presented a vision for what was then the Coalition for Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse, now known as the Community Coalition. It was a basic effort to use the residents’ collective wisdom and empower them to work for their neighborhoods.
“She wanted to involve young people in middle-class life in order to suppress the story about young people at that time, that black and brown teenagers were an available generation and that the only answer to the problems of the neighborhood was tougher policing,” Harris recalls -Dawson.