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Maxine W.
Democrat CA 43

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  • Nelson Mandela

    by Representative Maxine Waters

    Posted on 2013-12-12

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    WATERS. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my friend and colleague from Pennsylvania for that warm introduction, and I want to thank the members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

    We just returned from South Africa where we participated with thousands of folks from across South Africa memorializing Nelson Mandela. It was a wonderful moment in our lives. But, of course, Nelson Mandela has helped us all to be better persons. He has inspired us all in so many different ways.

    When I was a member of the California State Legislature, I authored the legislation that divested all of our pension funds from doing business in South Africa. That legislation caught fire across the country.

    {time} 1915 And so that legislation caught fire across the country, and we had other divestment movements going on, and others divesting their funds from businesses that were doing business in South Africa.

    We went on to have rallies and marches. We came to Washington, D.C. We got arrested at the South African Embassy.

    We sat in in the South African consulate in Los Angeles. We worked with students on the college campuses. They got involved in divestment. Some of them took the names of the streets in those campuses down and made them Nelson Mandela Way. And as we worked and worked, we were instrumental in helping to free Nelson Mandela, who had served 27 years in prison.

    In addition to that, some of us had the opportunity to go to South Africa when they lifted the ban on the ANC, and we witnessed all of those heroes who came back from out of exile. We continued to work with them until Nelson Mandela walked out free from having served that 27 years.

    And then we were able to welcome him to the United States. In Los Angeles we put together a huge celebration, and when he and Winnie Mandela walked on that stage, the crowd just exploded. But it exploded because here was a man who had the courage of his convictions, a man that was so committed to freedom, justice, and equality that he was willing to put his life on the line.

    He was a warrior, and he tried to negotiate. He tried to get the South African Government to realize that they should be recognizing that Black South Africans were human beings too. And when they didn't, he organized the struggle. He resisted and, of course, they placed him in prison.

    And some people thought that we would never see Black South Africans free. But because of Nelson Mandela, and because the people loved him so, followed him as he led, today we have a free South Africa.

    Mandela is gone. He is no longer with us, but he will be remembered forever because what he did was such a feat that we cannot identify anybody else, certainly in the 20th century, that led the way that he led.

    So I am pleased to be here with my colleagues tonight paying tribute to him. I thank my colleagues for all the work that they too participated in to honor him.

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