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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California


August 6, 2009
Floor Statement
Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA]: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank JOHN CONYERS for organizing our ability to be on the floor today to remember the life and times of Dr. Coretta Scott King.

Let me just say that Coretta Scott King was a friend of mine. We have worked on so many projects together. We have been in countless meetings together. And not only did I know her well; I held her in high esteem, the greatest respect for a woman of dignity, a woman who conducted herself in such a respectful fashion, a woman who was well disciplined, and a woman who suffered a lot. A woman who suffered during the years that she was raising her small children, having to literally put up with the threats and the intimidation. A woman who took care of the children, raised them in her husband's absence because Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was out fighting for civil rights. He was out putting himself on the line so that this country could be a better place for us all. So Coretta Scott King had to be mother and father, and she did a wonderful job of it. She raised her children, and they are wonderful children.

Yolanda King is a wonderful woman who lives in Los Angeles who is an actress and who has devoted her time to putting on plays that will help further the cause of civil rights, equality, and justice. Martin Luther King III was an elected official and headed SCLC, did a fine job of it; and I traveled to Georgia to give him support at some of the dark hours of the organization. And, of course, there is Dexter, a fine young man who has a responsibility for making big decisions as it relates to the King Center and all of the intellectual property that is associated with it. And even when it is very difficult, they are going to get through whatever they need to get through in order to make sure that Dr. Martin Luther King is remembered in the way that he should be remembered.

Then, of course, there is a young daughter, Bernice, who decided that she wanted to walk in her father's footsteps as a minister. I have seen her on many occasions, not only at the White House, but in churches all over America, a young woman who is a fine minister and preacher and a teacher. So Coretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King did a fabulous job, and Coretta Scott King instilled in her children the values that will hold them in good stead.

Let me just close by saying I was pleased to be an honoree at the Dr. Martin Luther King Center just a few years ago when I was invited by the family to come and to remember Dr. Martin Luther King at the King Day events that are held in Atlanta, and I am very appreciative of that, because I had an opportunity to spend some time with Coretta Scott King in a way that I had not been able to do before.

I can recall that we ended up in a little diner, at Pascal's, the favorite soul food restaurant in Atlanta, where we had an opportunity to talk about a lot of things, and we revisited the time that Buthelezi came to Atlanta. I was so opposed to him coming, and Coretta tried to talk sense into me and said, ``Well, we all support Nelson Mandela and we all know that Buthelezi is a person that was opposed to the work of Mandela, but we must be bigger than Buthelezi, we must be bigger than that, and we must understand that we must try to use an opportunity to influence him.''

She was that kind of person. She would think through very carefully her response and her responses to information that was out about whatever work she was doing, and she always responded in such a fashion that not only caused people to respect her, but it also showed the patience that she had, the ability to take people with all their faults and still not be bitter.

So the world is going to miss her. JOHN CONYERS is absolutely correct; she put her work into making sure that Martin Luther King memorials were organized and committees were organized all over this country, all over this world, and that they literally celebrated his birth and they carried out his work, and they continue to do that, and it was because of her traveling from city to city, from town to town, from legislature to legislature, that she has these Martin Luther King committees all over the country.

So today we pay our respects, and we just say farewell to her. We will always remember her, and we will always know that because of her, Martin Luther King was able to do what he was able to do; because of her, her children are doing what they are able to do; because of her, many of us are able to see things a little bit differently and honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King and support nonviolence.