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Congressional Black Caucus joins the official Nelson Mandela memorial delegation

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The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has announced today that Chair Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) and members of the CBC will be part of the official Congressional Delegation to Johannesburg, South Africa, to attend memorial services for former President Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, Dec. 10. The memorial service will be held at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, also known as the Soccer City stadium, the site of the 2010 World Cup final.

President Obama is also traveling to South Africa, as are three ex-Presidents: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Obama will make remarks on Nelson Mandela's legacy during a memorial service Tuesday for the late South African freedom fighter, officials said Monday. "We do expect President Obama to speak as part of the program," said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.

Others included in the official delegation, in addition to CBC Chair Fudge are the leader of the delegation, Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL). Other senior members of the House taking the trip includes Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and John Lewis (D-Ga). Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) is the other Republican and the only United States Senator joining the official delegation.

Additional congressional lawmakers may opt to attend other events paying tribute to Mandela in South Africa scheduled for this week. Some aides have suggested that the Senate may try to adjourn for the year by Friday to allow senators to attend the official state funeral over the weekend.

The CBC was established in 1971 and has been outspoken in its opposition to South African apartheid and supported the movement in America against the policy. The CBC organized rallies, participated in protests and sponsored more than 15 anti-apartheid bills over 14 years. The CBC was also instrumental in the creation of TransAfrica, a foreign policy organization that brought attention to issues concerning Africa and the Caribbean, and that organized opposition to U.S. support of apartheid in South Africa.

In 1985, CBC Member Representative William H. Gray (D-PA), chairman of the Committee on Budget, introduced H.R. 1460, a bill that prohibited loans and new investment in South Africa and enforced sanctions on imports and exports with the nation. Congress approved this legislation one year later, and it became known as the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. This legislation called for a trade embargo against South Africa and the immediate divestment of American corporations. The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 and the work of the CBC were critical to ending the racist and inhumane treatment of South Africa’s people by its government.

Fudge said upon learning of the death of Nelson Mandela that "Members of the Congressional Black Caucus mourn the loss of our friend and one of the greatest world leaders of our time. Nelson 'Rolihlahla' Mandela was an extraordinary human being; a man who dedicated his entire life to the liberation of all South Africans and who united voices for freedom in every corner of the world."

Fudge said that while we grieve for "Nelson Mandela upon his death, the world will celebrate his life. This world will be forever changed because he lived. May we never forget the lessons Madiba taught us in his quest for freedom, 'for to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others,'" said Fudge.

Here is a list of the congressional delegation, provided to the Washington Post by House aides: Republicans Rep. Aaron Schock and Sen. Ted Cruz; Democrats Dels. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) and Donna Christensen (V.I.); and Democratic Reps. Marcia Fudge, John Conyers (Mich.), Charles Rangel (N.Y.), John Lewis, Jim McDermott (Wash.), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Bobby Scott (Va.), Mel Watt (N.C.), Sheila Jackson-Lee (Tex.), Elijah Cummings (Md.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), G. K. Butterfield (N.C.), Gene Green (Tex.), Gwen Moore (Wis.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Karen Bass (Calif.), Joyce Beatty (Ohio) and Terri Sewell (Ala.).

Send John Presta an email and your story ideas or suggestions, johnpresta@att.net.

John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African American studies, published by The Elevator Group, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns.

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