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Barbara L.
Democrat CA 13

About Rep. Barbara
  • Nelson Mandela

    by Representative Barbara Lee

    Posted on 2013-12-12

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    LEE of California. Thank you very much. Let me thank you, Congressman Fattah, first of all, for yielding and for your tremendous leadership on so many fronts. And thank you so much for this Special Order tonight and for reminding us in many ways of the history of this great movement that took place in this country.

    Let me also just thank our chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, for her tremendous leadership and her tireless work and for the real humbling honor to be part of her delegation to South Africa to honor President Mandela. Also to Leader Pelosi and to our assistant leader, Mr. Clyburn.

    Let me just take a moment to extend my thoughts and prayers on behalf of my district to President Mandela's family, for South Africa. We all have lost a warrior. South Africa has lost a warrior. The world has lost a freedom fighter and a great statesman.

    The Congressional Black Caucus stood alongside the ANC and Nelson Mandela in the fight for equality and justice. And I am so proud of this contribution.

    Even throughout his 27 years of incarceration and brutal treatment, his spirit was never broken, and this stands, really, as a testament to the power of resistance and determination.

    Not only is Nelson Mandela the father of the liberation movement in South Africa, but he also laid the framework for modern liberation movements throughout the world.

    With a dignified defiance, Nelson Mandela never compromised his political principles or the mission of the anti-apartheid movement, and he took up the mantle of fighting HIV and AIDS.

    Like many of my colleagues, I was first inspired by Mr. Mandela in the early seventies. I was arrested in Berkeley, California, during the time when our brave brothers and sisters in the labor movement refused to unload ships carrying cargo from South Africa that arrived in Oakland's port.

    My predecessor, former Congressman Ron Dellums, lead the effort with Congressman--our beloved Bill Gray--over and over and over again introducing legislation calling for divestment against this racist apartheid regime. But they finally put the United States on the right side of history when the Congress overrode President Reagan's veto.

    And I vividly remember that the ANC was designated a terrorist organization by the United States Government, and it was illegal to meet with the freedom fighters, but many of us did anyway. I remember meeting with ANC members at the United Nations in Switzerland and Austria to help map out our solidarity work here in the United States.

    So you can imagine how I personally felt when I joined some of you as an election observer, seeing lines and lines of people waiting to vote for the first time for Nelson Mandela as the first Black President of a free South Africa.

    One of my proudest moments as a Member of Congress was when I led the effort to remove President Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize, and the ANC from the U.S. Terrorist Watch List in time for his 90th birthday, just 5 years ago.

    What now lives is Madiba's legacy of sacrifice, fighting for what is right and as an example of the power of healing and reconciliation.

    And I just have to say that legacy was shown briefly in the handshake of President Obama when he extended it to President Raoul Castro of Cuba. I was proud of that handshake for what it means for diplomacy and the possibility of opening lines of communication. That handshake stands with the legacy of Nelson Mandela, of working and negotiating with those with whom you may not agree.

    As Madiba said, and I quote, ``Reconciliation means working together to correct a legacy of past injustice.'' He was a peacemaker.

    President Mandela taught us so many lessons, from reconciliation and [[Page H8091]] personal perseverance to the true meaning of public service. What he taught us was never to give up the fight for justice.

    I had the privilege to meet Mr. Mandela many times. His serenity and his strength really were larger than life.

    His legacy will live on forever in how we live our lives in the fight for freedom and for justice in a multiracial society.

    Finally, let me just say that I hope, in his honor, that we live his legacy and continue our fight to end racism and to defend voting rights right here in the United States.

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