Thank you, Madam Speaker.
I thank our dear friend, Congresswoman Watson, for bringing us together around this very sad and necessary resolution today.
On behalf of all Members of Congress, I rise to pay tribute to Chairwoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, who passed away Saturday night. I offer the deepest sympathies to her family who loved her so dearly -- her husband, James McDonald Jr., her five children, and her five grandchildren.
As the first African American woman to chair a committee in Congress, Juanita Millender-McDonald was a trailblazer, always advocating for the full participation of all Americans in the success and prosperity of our country. She was a strong defender of the right of every eligible voter to have full access to the polls, and a tireless proponent of fair elections that ensured that every vote would be counted.
As Chair of the House Administration Committee, Chairwoman Millender-McDonald's deep commitment to diversity was manifested in her actions on hiring and contracting within the House of Representatives. She enjoyed her role as the 'Mayor' of Capitol Hill, and was known for asking tourists in elevators 'are you finding everything okay?' and listening closely to their response.
After her family, the people of
Chairwoman Millender-McDonald was an advocate for justice around the world. She spoke out forcefully against the genocide in
The loss of Chairwoman Juanita Millender-McDonald is a personal one for many of us here. She was always optimistic and determined to make a difference. The dignity with which she faced her illness was an indication of the determination with which she always served the people of our country. We have all lost an effective leader and spokeswoman, and many of us have lost a dear friend.
When we look around this chamber, it's almost impossible to imagine it without Juanita here fighting the fight, and doing so looking magnificent. The dignity, the grace, the beauty, the thoughtfulness that she brought to the tasks at hand were a model for others. Young people would come to the Capitol and observe her in action and learn from her.
We also learned from her how to have dignity at the end of life. Many of us knew that she had had bouts of illness, but we really didn't know how serious it was and how close she was to what she said, her daughter told me, 'going home.' Valerie said to me last night, she said, 'I want to make all these arrangements so that I can go home.'
I hope it is a comfort to Chairwoman Juanita Millender-McDonald's family and friends that so many people mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time. Many of us will travel to
It's been an honor to call her colleague - I know we all agree on that. And for many of us it was a privilege also to call her -- friend.
Goodbye, my friend.