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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Waters Mourns the Passing of Former U.S. Congressman Ron Dellums

July 31, 2018
Press Release

Waters Mourns the Passing of Former U.S. Congressman Ron Dellums

LOS ANGELES – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, released the following statement on the death of former U.S. Congressman and former Mayor of Oakland, California, Ronald V. Dellums:

“Yesterday, we lost yet another icon – my dear friend and former colleague, former Congressman Ron Dellums. Ron Dellums was an unabashed, progressive champion with an unwavering commitment to peace, equality, and justice. I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, friends, and loved ones during this difficult time.

“First elected to represent California’s 7th district in 1970, Ron Dellums was a strong advocate for people of color, the LGBTQ community, organized labor, women, and other vulnerable communities during his 13-term tenure in the U.S. Congress.  

“In 1971, Ron Dellums joined with 12 Members of Congress – including Louis Stokes, Bill Clay, Sr., and Shirley Chisholm – to found the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Understanding the unique problems facing our community, these civil rights giants had the fortitude and wisdom to create a caucus that would provide the advocacy and leadership required in order to ensure that African Americans and other marginalized communities have the opportunity to achieve the American dream. True to its creed, the CBC remains the ‘Conscience of the Congress' today, and has grown to a historic 48 members.

“Ron Dellums, a Marine Corps veteran, was one of the most outspoken opponents of the Vietnam War in Congress, and was at the forefront of the effort to educate the American public of war crimes that were committed during the Vietnam War[1]. Ron Dellums was also the first Member of Congress to call for the integration of gay and lesbian Americans in the U.S. military[2]. As a result of his leadership and expertise on issues related to the military and defense policy, Ron Dellums made history by becoming the first African American Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He was also the recipient of numerous awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from Peace Action, the nation’s largest grassroots peace network, and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

“However, one of Ron Dellum’s greatest achievements is one that is also dear to my heart: ending apartheid in South Africa. As a member of the California State Assembly and a national board member of TransAfrica, one of the most prominent anti-apartheid advocacy groups in the United States, I had the privilege of working with Ron Dellums to fight for legislation at the state and federal level that forced the United States to divest from the apartheid regime in South Africa. As I fought for the 1986 passage of my bill, Assembly Bill 134, which made California the first state to divest its $12 billion in state pension funds tied to the apartheid regime in South Africa, Ron Dellums was simultaneously championing similar legislation in the U.S. Congress. As a result of a 14-year battle, his historic bill, the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, gained enough support to not only pass in both chambers of Congress, but to also override President Ronald Reagan’s veto.

“Though he retired from Congress after 27 years of service, Ron Dellums maintained his dedication to his community and was elected mayor of his hometown, Oakland, California, in 2007. During his tenure, Ron Dellums focused heavily on educational initiatives, public safety, and economic growth in the City of Oakland. He is still celebrated for securing $23 million in federal stimulus funds for the City of Oakland through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act under President Barack Obama – second only to Chicago, Illinois, the president’s hometown.[3]

“The incomparable Ron Dellums -- a passionate drum major for peace, inspiring community leader, effective politician, and lifelong public servant -- left an indelible mark on the City of Oakland and in the hearts of so many people across this country who also love him. Though our hearts are heavy, I join the Congressional Black Caucus and the entire U.S. Congress in celebrating his life and legacy. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during their time of grief.”

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