Barbara Mikulski

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Barbara Mikulski

Barbara Mikulski is a Democratic member of the United States Senate, representing Maryland.

Early Life

Growing up in the Highlandtown neighborhood of East Baltimore, Mikulski became a social worker in Baltimore, helping at-risk children and educating seniors about the Medicare program. Social work evolved into community activism when Mikulski successfully organized communities against a plan to build a 16-lane highway through Baltimore's Fells Point neighborhood.[1]

"Community organizer"

Writing in the Huffington Post of September 8, 2008, in an article entitled "From Organizer To Elected Official" Democratic Socialists of America member Peter Dreier listed several serving US politicians who had begun their careers as "community organizers". They were US Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Representatives John Lewis of Georgia, Jan Schakowsky and Danny Davis of Illinois, Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Linda Sanchez of California, and Donna Edwards of Maryland, Washington House of Representatives Speaker Frank Chopp, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, state legislators Beth Low of Missouri, Michael Foley of Ohio, Gilbert Cedillo of California, Tom Hucker of Maryland, Tony Hill of Florida, and Crystal Peoples of New York, Alameda County (California) Supervisor Nate Miley, City Council members Jay Westbrook of Cleveland, Chuck Turner and Sam Yoon of Boston, and Melvin Carter of St. Paul, and San Francisco School Board member Jane Kim. [2]

Early career/activism

Mikulski considered becoming a nun, but concluded that she was too rebellious to accept the discipline of a religious order. Instead, she trained as a social worker, earning her bachelor's degree at Mount St. Agnes College in Baltimore, then continuing her studies at the University of Maryland. She graduated in 1965 with a master's degree in social work.

Mikulski first worked for the Associated Catholic Charities and then the Baltimore Department of Social Services. By 1966, she was an assistant chief of community organizing for the city social services department, working on a plan to decentralize welfare programs. While serving these organizations, primarily in cases of child abuse and neglect, Mikulski developed the deep concern for the rights of children and families that she later took to Washington.

Mikulski expressed many of her concerns in an essay titled "Who Speaks for Ethnic America?" for the New York Times in September of 1970. Ethnic immigrants who came to the United States at the turn of the century, she wrote, "constructed the skyscrapers, operated the railroads, worked on the docks, factories, steel mills and in the mines. Though our labor was in demand, we were not accepted. Our names, language, food and cultural customers were the subject of ridicule. We were discriminated against by banks, institutions of higher learning and other organizations controlled by the Yankee Patricians. There were no protective mechanisms for safety, wages and tenure." Mikulski maintained that it was smarter for these groups to organize than to fight, "to form an alliance based on mutual issues, interdependence and respect."[3]


Mikulski got her start in politics in 1968 with the organization of a coalition of black, Polish, Greek, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian Americans to block construction of a 16-lane highway that would have destroyed areas of East Baltimore, including parts of Fells Point that boasted the first black home ownership neighborhood in the city. Called SCAR (Southeast Council Against the Road), the neighborhood group fought against an entrenched Democratic political organization at City Hall that supported the highway project. Despite the strength of the opposition, SCAR, led by Mikulski, was successful in blocking the highway proposal.[4]

Political Life

Mikulski's first election was a successful run for Baltimore City Council in 1971, where she served for five years. In 1976, she ran for Congress and won, representing Maryland's 3rd district for 10 years. In 1986, she ran for Senate and won, becoming the first Democratic woman Senator elected in her own right. She was re-elected with large majorities in 1992, 1998 and 2004. A leader in the Senate, Mikulski is the Dean of the Women - serving as a mentor to other women Senators when they first take office. [5]

Reagan critic

While serving as a United States congresswoman, Mikulski was a harsh critic of the Reagan administration's defense and foreign policies, and voted to cancel the MX missile project and cut off aid to Nicaraguan contras.[6]

EMILY's List

Mikulski has been supported by EMILY's List during her campaigning.

EMILY's List co-founder Joanne Howes served as legislative director for Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and was a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Federation of America..[7]

Democratic Agenda


More than 1,200 people attended the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee initiated Democratic Agenda Conference held November 16-18, 1979, at the International Inn and Metropolitan AM Church in Washington 1 DC. The conference focused on "corporate power'; as the key barrier to "economic and political democracy," concepts many Democratic Agenda participants defined as "socialism.'

The Democratic Agenda meetings attempted to develop anti-corporate alternatives" through influencing the direction of the Democratic Party during the period leading to the July 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York.

The opening speaker was U.S. Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) who set the stage for the DA conference with the proclamation, "I come to you with a message of hype - hope - well, it is hype." The Baltimore Congresswoman proceeded with a speech that was basically a collection of Slogans such as "Change comes from the bottom!" and "People power!" which were received with warm applause. .[8]

"Knows about" DSOC"

Nancy Lieber, International Committee chair of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, wrote a June 30, 1981 letter to Danielle Page, a staffer for Canadian Member of Parliament Ian Waddell.

Dear Danielle Page,
I'm sending along a list of Congresspeople and senators who know about us, democratic socialism, and -- perhaps Canada.
Only the first one is an open socialist, but the others are sympathetic in varying degrees.

The list was;

Hope this is of help and you recruit them to the cause!
In Solidarity,
Nancy Lieber
Chair, Intl. Committee

Democratic Agenda conference


Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski was an invited as a speaker to the Democratic Socialists Organizing Committee organized Democratic Agenda conference, scheduled for 1982 in Newark, New Jersey. Other invited speakers included New York City Councillor Ruth Messinger, SEIU President John Sweeney, Coalition of Labor Union Women President Joyce Miller, and Americans for Democratic Action President Robert Drinan.

Homage to Harrington

Reading Socialist Vol. 6, number 3, Sep./Oct. 88, page 3
Reading Socialist Vol. 6, number 3, Sep./Oct. 88, page 4

In 1988, 600 activists gathered in the Roseland Hotel, New York to pay homage to Democratic Socialists of America leader Michael Harrington, then age 60, and undergoing treatment for cancer.

Co-chairs of the event were DSA members William Winpisinger, Gloria Steinem, Jack Sheinkman and Stanley Sheinbaum.

Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski was listed among the prominent attendees.

Tour to Nicaragua

In January 1981, three Congressional Democrats, Gerry Studds of Massachusetts, Bob Edgar of Pennsylvania, and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, toured Nicaragua, and met with Sandinista leaders.

A follow up report by Studds claimed that the Sandinista's main "accomplishment has been to create within Nicaragua a universal commitment to social equity, and a concern for the country's multitude of poor, ill clothed, ill fed and sick people. There is a fully shared sense that the revolution is necessary and just."[9]

After her February 1981 visit Nicaragua, and other countries in Central America, Mikulski "provided further evidence of atrocities committed by right-wing forces".

Mikulski reported that "In each and every conversation [with Salvadoran civilian refugees], it was verified that the military aid from the United States was aiding and abetting the killing and torture of innocent people."[10]

Mikulski claimed that children were used as target practice, "and macheted up to be eaten by dogs", and "rape is used as a systematic form of social control" She also said terrorists "disemwomb" pregnant women.[11]

Opposed aid to El Salvador

On February 6, 1990, Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry introduced a Bill to cut off all aid to El Salvador just a few days after EI Salvador's President Cristiani had come to Washington to discuss the need for such support.

This bill was backed by four other Democratic Senators: Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Paul Simon of Illinois, Alan Cranston of California and Brock Adams of Washington state.

The Senators and Congressmen who vote against providing aid to the government of El Salvador were effectively handicapping the democratically-elected government in that area and paralleling the Communist line of the time.[12]

The Communist Party USA newspaper, the People's Daily World of January 30, 1990 stated:

Last weekend's meeting of the Communist Party, USA resolved to Mobilize to build the March 24 demonstration in Washington, D.C. demanding an end to military aid to El Salvador and intervention in Central America.

Working with Pappas

Dean Pappas, an activist whose strong antiwar views were honed during the Vietnam War era, when he stood, often shoulder to shoulder, with the late Philip Berrigan, the “Dissenter Emeritus,” in opposing the evils of the American Empire. Pappas said: “I have actually known [Sen.] Barbara Mikulski for over 40 years. We worked together. I was really proud of what she did in standing up to U.S. imperialism in Central America."[13]

Supported by Council for a Livable World

The Council for a Livable World, founded in 1962 by long-time socialist activist and alleged Soviet agent, Leo Szilard, is a non-profit advocacy organization that seeks to "reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security", primarily through supporting progressive, congressional candidates who support their policies. The Council supported Barbara Mikulski in her successful Senate run as candidate for Maryland.[14]

Opposed the Iraq War

The following is a list of the 23 U.S. Senators voting "Nay" on the Iraq War resolution in October 2002. The vote was 77-23 in favor of the resolution.

Daniel Akaka (D - Hawaii), Jeff Bingaman (D - N.M.), Barbara Boxer (D - Calif.), Robert Byrd (D - W. Va.), Lincoln Chafee (R - R.I.), Kent Conrad (D - N.D.), Jon Corzine (D - N.J.), Mark Dayton (D - Minn.), Dick Durbin (D - Ill.), Russ Feingold (D - Wis.), Bob Graham (D - Fla.) [Retired, 2004], Daniel Inouye (D - Hawaii), Jim Jeffords (I - Vt.), Ted Kennedy (D - Mass.), Patrick Leahy (D - Vt.), Carl Levin (D - Mich.), Barbara Mikulski (D - Md.), Patty Murray (D - Wash.), Jack Reed (D - R.I.), Paul Sarbanes (D - Md.), Debbie Stabenow (D - Mich.), Paul Wellstone (D - Minn.) [Dec. 2002] and Ron Wyden (D - Ore.).


The following are past and present staff:[15]

External links