Rep. Johnson’s Speech Honoring the Late Ron Dellums

September 7, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04), delivered remarks of the Floor of the House of Representatives to honor the late Ron Dellums, Oakland Mayor and 13-term Bay Area Member of Congress. Below are the Congressman’s remarks:

I express my sincere condolences to the family and friends for your loss of a great patriot – Representative Ron Dellums. It is my great honor to be here tonight to pay my respects to a man who was a true giant in this body, the United States House of Representatives, as well as in American life. … a man who, I think we can all say with assurance, was one upon whose shoulders we all stand.

Before we had the incomparable John Lewis, and the inimitable Maxine Waters in Congress, there was Ron Dellums, who left his distinct mark, not just on this august body, but the San Francisco Bay Area, the nation, and the world. 

And he left an indelible impression on me as a Congressman. The greatest legacy that he left us, however, was his successor, Congresswoman Barbara Lee who carries on his legacy.

For 10 years, I was honored and privileged to serve as a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Ron Dellums’ portrait, hanging in the committee room, was a constant reminder of the type of committee member that I aspired to be. 

“If being an advocate of peace, justice and humanity toward all human beings is radical, then I’m glad to be called radical,” he once said. “And if it is radical to oppose the use of 70 percent of federal monies for destruction and war, then I am a radical,” he proudly declared.

That quote has stick with me – it has guided me in my public service. 

Ron would never allow the powers that be, or the corrosive forces of Washington D.C., to put him in a box. He never allowed labels to define who he was. Right-wing critics called him a Communist – but Ron shot back and described himself as a “commie pinko Afro-topped bell-bottomed dude from Berkeley.” 

A true Renaissance man, Ron was cool-before Congress knew what cool was – a bell-bottomed cat from Berkeley. 

Who other than Ron Dellums, could rise from the streets of Oakland to become a congressman, a mayor and one of the guiding forces behind a 14-year campaign against apartheid in South Africa that helped bring down that racist regime?  

Who else but Ron Dellums could help form the Congressional Black Caucus, and from his seat and chairmanship on the powerful House Armed Services Committee propose spending not for war and weapons, but instead for education, jobs, housing, health care, assistance for the poor, and programs to fight drug abuse?

Ladies and gentlemen, Ron Dellums set the ultimate example for us today with the powerful message and legacy of being true to oneself, a man who stood tall for the people. Not just the people of America. Ron stood for the people of the world. He was a unique and authentic human being, and his presence will be missed. 

Thank you, Ron, for your guidance, and your example that we can look to as a beacon, as we move our country forward during these turbulent times. The lessons we’ve learned from your example will serve us well as we continue the good fight for peace, justice and humanity toward all human beings. Thank you, Ron Dellums. I yield back. 


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