Lena King Lee was born into a coal mining family. She grew up in an atmosphere of activism. Always a serious person, she was once heard to say, "To serve my people better, my education must be the ultimate in social sciences."
She entered Cheyney Training School for Teachers and earned a teaching certificate. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Morgan College and, because of the segregated school system, was forced to attend New York University for her Master of Arts degree. She began her career as a teacher in the Baltimore City public school system where she progressed to an elementary principalship. It was during her career in education that she joined in helping to form the American Federation of Teachers, which laid the foundation for the liberation of teachers.
While Lee was still a principal, she decided to enter politics. This was a period when teachers were often discouraged and sometimes blocked from voting. In 1969, she became a Delegate to the Maryland General Assembly. For sixteen years, she served as the first and only black woman lawyer. She served with distinction on the House Judiciary Committee. She was part of the joint committee proposing and securing passage of legislation to establish the Environmental Matters Committee. Lee's forte was social welfare and other legislation which affected the removal of archaic laws from the Code of Maryland. She was also the first black woman (and perhaps, the first woman) to serve as Vice-Chair of the Baltimore City Delegation to the General Assembly. She was a vocal floor leader in the fight for all legislation directly improving the status of women. By following her beliefs, she expanded both her experiences and her achievements.
She is the recipient of many awards and citations from fraternal organizations, civic special interests groups and political organizations. She also has awards from her church, mayors, governors and from her alma mater. In 1988, she received the Presidential Citation from the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education for "exemplary experiences" honoring historically black institutions.
As a practicing attorney and elected official, Lee has made significant contributions through her involvement in the legal and political arenas.
Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 1989.