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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Rep. Waters Statement on the Death of John Conyers, Jr.

October 29, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) issued a statement on the death of former Congressman John Conyers, Jr.: 

“I am heartbroken by the passing of my dear friend Congressman John Conyers, Jr.-- one of the most productive and effective public policy makers in the history of the U.S. Congress.

“John Conyers was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the longest serving African American in the history of Congress, and a lifelong champion of civil rights and equality. However, to me, John Conyers was more than a colleague, he was a mentor. Long before I ever served in Congress, John Conyers shared his wisdom and expertise on issues of race and confronting police brutality. He taught me so many lessons that I will never forget, such as how to effectively leverage African American radio and community newspapers during a time when our leadership was often ignored and overlooked. John Conyers took me, and so many other members of the Democratic Caucus, under his wing, and his leadership and voice will forever be missed.

“First elected to Congress in 1964, John Conyers was a true progressive who provided bold and courageous leadership on some of the most challenging and controversial issues facing the country. John Conyers was a tireless leader in the Civil Rights Movement, and following the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, led a 15-year campaign to create a national holiday celebrating Dr. King’s birthday. Upon his election to Congress, John Conyers hired civil rights icon Rosa Parks who struggled to find work as a result of her leadership in the Civil Rights Movement, and she served on his staff until her retirement in 1988. John Conyers cared deeply about the plight of African Americans and people of color, and fought for the passage and protection of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which he cosponsored. He was an innovative leader and policymaker who, at the beginning of every session of Congress for more than 25 years, introduced a resolution to study the impact of slavery and develop recommendations for reparations. He was also at the forefront of the efforts to confront police brutality, address racially motivated violence, and end the death penalty. John Conyers believed every American deserved quality and affordable healthcare, and had the wisdom and foresight to lead a campaign for a government-run, single payer healthcare system years before such a program was considered a mainstream policy solution. A veteran of the Korean War, John Conyers was a vocal opponent of unjust wars, had the courage to vote against funding the Vietnam War, and strongly opposed the Iraq War. A highly respected and senior member of the Democratic Caucus, John Conyers provided strong leadership as the chair of the Government Operations Committee and made history as the first African American Chair of the Judiciary Committee.

“John Conyers was a fighter and his contributions to the struggle for equality will forever be recorded in history. I am proud of our work in the Congressional Black Caucus and on the Judiciary Committee, where we joined together in the fight for justice and equal representation on many occasions, including providing the necessary leadership on behalf of minorities and women in media ownership, programming, and advertising during the Comcast-NBC Merger and for comprehensive HIV/AIDS testing and treatment for prison inmates.

“The one and only John Conyers, Jr: civil rights giant, freedom fighter, and progressive visionary. I thank him for his service and sacrifice for our country, for his leadership, for his friendship, and for his love. I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, sons, family, and friends during this difficult time.”