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California in Congress

Merriam-Webster dictionary is using Rep. Barbara Lee's words to explain what 'woke' means

The brand new Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of "woke" includes a a quote from Rep. Barbara Lee as the example of how to use the word in a sentence.

The online dictionary defined woke on Monday as "aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)."

The entry, which she proudly shared on her Twitter account, cites a passage from a June Essence article by Lee (D-Oakland).

"But we will only succeed if we reject the growing pressure to retreat into cynicism and hopelessness. ... We have a moral obligation to 'stay woke,' take a stand and be active; challenging injustices and racism in our communities and fighting hatred and discrimination wherever it rises."

Lee's career has long been focused on social and racial justice issues. She was mentored by Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run for president, and has worked on education, healthcare, affordable housing and other social issues during her 11 terms representing Oakland.

Her words have often been influential in her liberal East Bay district and among the party's progressive base.

The slogan "Barbara Lee speaks for me" became a rallying cry among antiwar activists after her lone House vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The authorization is still used to justify American military actions around the world, and she's been pushing for a new authorization for 16 years.

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