Woman of Achievement: Barbara Streisand – Singer, Actress, Director, Producer, POLITICAL ACTIVIST

April 26, 2009

bsby Kathy Groob

Barbara Streisand is considered by many to be among the world’s greatest entertainers. Her achievements as a woman and as political activist are lesser known but just as significant.  Streisand has broken the glass ceiling with her work as a film director and producer and has lead initiatives in the political arena.

She has long been a defender of constitutional rights and a supporter of the fight against AIDS.  Each year the Streisand Foundation contributes to a wide variety of causes and charities.  Since its founding in 1986, the Streisand Foundation has made gifts totaling over $18 million to organizations working to support environmental issues, women’s issues, civil rights and race relations, AIDs research and children and youth-related issues. 

Ms. Streisand’s feelings about the rights and obligations of artists to participate in the political process were brought into sharp focus by her early 1995 speech at Harvard University under the sponsorship of the John F. Kennedy School of Government. The address won unprecedented reportage and reproduction in such print media as the New York Times and the Washington Post. It was carried a record number of times on C-SPAN and is included in Senator Robert Torricelli’s book, “In Our Words: The American Century,” a collection of important speeches of the 20th century. 

Prior to the 1986 elections, she performed her first full-length concert in 20 years, raising money for the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee to disburse to liberal candidates. Taped on Sept. 6, 1986, before 500 invited guests at her California home, the concert was called “Barbra Streisand: One Voice” and aired on HBO on Dec. 27, 1986 to enormous acclaim. The money raised that night helped elect five Democratic Senators, which restored a Democratic majority in the Senate. Additionally, she headlined concerts which raised millions of dollars for each of the successful presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton. To date, over $10 million including $7 million in profits from “Barbra Streisand: One Voice,” have been channeled to charities through the Streisand Foundation, which continues to occupy much of the star’s energy and resources.

A concert at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium, headlined by Ms. Streisand in support of the Gore/Lieberman presidential campaign, raised over $5 million, the Democratic Party’s largest “hard money” intake ever. Her celebrated speech in support of the Gore candidacy later was played in substantial excerpts on several national television broadcasts. 

Her passionate political activism continues. Convinced that 1998 national general election was one of the most crucial in recent history, she applied herself to the election of candidates and issues she felt essential. She was one of the first and most outspoken critics of the Republican Congress’ use of the impeachment issue as a means of blocking or undoing the social achievements of the Clinton administration. Ms. Streisand contributed financially to support the campaigns of 35 candidates in the general election, 27 of whom won. Similarly, she also supported specified candidates by endorsing 194 of them on her web site and then recommending consideration of this list when she did her AOL get-out-the-vote chat on election eve. Of the candidates she endorsed, 155 were elected and 39 were not. In both instances, that is a won/lost ratio of nearly 80%. 

To read more about the incredible life of Barbara Streisand, visit: http://www.barbrastreisand.com/

*excerpts taken from www.barbarastreisand.com