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Congresswoman Juanita Millender McDonald died on Sunday after taking a leave of absence from her congressional duties to look after her failing health and to spend some quality time with her family. Though she had recently been diagnosed with cancer, her passing still came as a terrible shock to the community she has served so well, to those who loved her counted on her to represent their needs in Washington. Millender McDonald was a very effective representative for the 37th District which entails Carson, Compton, Long Beach, Signal Hill and a portion of Los Angeles. She had just been re-elected for her sixth term to Congress and she cruised to a comfortable victory over her closet challenger. In Congress, Millender McDonald had been recently appointed as chair of the powerful House Administration Committee which oversees the operation of the entire House of Representatives.
She will be sorely missed especially by her colleagues, who have unanimously spoken of her ability to reach across the aisle and effectively do the people’s business.
Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus and a former Congressman stated, “My wife Alice and I were deeply saddened to learn about the death of Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald. She was not just my representative in Congress, but she was also my friend; a dedicated public servant and she loved the people she represented. She will be truly missed and never forgotten.”
Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke said, “She has always served well and in different capacities. First on the Carson City Council, then in the State Legislature and now in Congress, and she had reached a pinnacle in terms of a Congressional career as the chair of a major committee in Congress. Our prayers are with her and her family.
The executive publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel, Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. echoed similar sentiments about the Congresswoman when he commented, “Congresswoman Juanita Millender McDonald carried herself with dignity, grace and style; she was committed to handling the business of the community. Nobody really knew how difficult it was for her yet she continued to work despite her health. She was a giant and her death will create an irreplaceable void in our community.”
Assemblywoman Laura Richardson, who now holds the seat formerly held by Millender McDonald in the assembly knew her very well and had the following comments, “We have all witnessed Congresswoman McDonald fight tremendous battles, whether it was on the Carson City Council doing an unprecedented win as the first African American to represent the 55th assembly district and then to go on and win in Congress. She has always been on the forefront leading the trail and fighting in an extremely courageous way. We will still be praying for her.”
According to Majority Whip, Assemblywoman Karen Bass, “All of us were excited when she was promoted to chair of the House Administration Committee and her leadership in that role has really been applauded. All of my thoughts and prayers are with her and her family.”
Finally Councilman Isadore Hall of the Compton City Council worked closely with the Congresswoman besides his entire councilmanic district sits within her congressional district. So she was also his congressional representative and he had these kinds words to say on behalf of his city and himself, “All of Compton is in prayer over the death of the Honorable Juanita Millender McDonald. It’s a terrible loss not only to the 37th District, but also to the nation as a whole. She was an advocate for the people. We recognize the tremendous loss and we will hold up high all of her accomplishments.
The outpouring of kind words and thoughts from the Southland, the State and the nation is representative of the kind of person Congresswoman Juanita Millender McDonald was. Her passing, though it will leave the community and her constituents yearning for her leadership will always remember her by what she did while serving them in Congress over the last decade.