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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Congresswoman Waters Honors the Legacy of President Nelson Mandela

July 18, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, released the following statement in recognition of Nelson Mandela International Day which was commemorated by the United Nations General Assembly in recognition of his lifetime of service in South Africa and all over the world:

“Today, it is with great pride that I join millions of people around the world to honor the life and legacy of South African President Nelson Mandela. In his 95 years of life, President Mandela, or ‘Madiba’ as he was affectionately called, was a revolutionary and transformative leader who forever changed the world through his steadfast dedication to freedom, equality, and human rights. After spending 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela became the first black South African to be elected President in what was also the first free, multi-racial, democratic election in South African history. While President Mandela used his administration to dismantle apartheid, combat institutional racism, and begin the process of racial reconciliation in his country, his efforts also taught the world the power of one man having the fortitude to sacrifice his own ideals for a cause greater than himself.

“To me, Nelson Mandela is more than a world-renowned hero – I had the distinct honor and privilege of calling him a friend. His leadership of the international anti-apartheid movement encouraged me to take action here in the United States where I served as the Los Angles Chair of the Free South Africa Movement, organized countless anti-apartheid rallies in Los Angeles, led a sit-in at the South African Consulate General Office in Los Angeles, and was even arrested during a protest at the South African Embassy in Washington, DC. As a member of the California State Assembly, I fought for the passage of Assembly Bill 134 which forced California to divest $12 billion in state pension funds tied to the apartheid regime in South Africa. Additionally, in 1990, I chaired the committee in Los Angles that brought over 90,000 people together in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to welcome Nelson Mandela into the United States, and I also traveled with the official United States delegation to South Africa in 1994 to attend his inauguration as President of South Africa. In 1998, I was honored to welcome President Mandela to the United States once again, this time to receive the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal.

“As we reflect on Nelson Mandela’s memory today, on what would have been his 99th birthday, let us remember when he once said, ‘What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.' Few embody this quote better than Nelson Mandela himself, and it is my sincere hope that my own career in public service lives up to his extraordinary example.”