The North Long Beach Post Office was renamed Tuesday in honor of the late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald, the first black woman to chair a committee in Congress.
Rep. Janice Hahn, D-San Pedro, who introduced H.R. 5687 to designate the post office as the Juanita Millender-McDonald Post Office on Nov. 12, was among those at the ceremony, along with Millender-McDonald’s widower, James McDonald Jr.; daughter Valerie McDonald; Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia; and Long Beach Councilmen Al Austin and Rex Richardson.
“Juanita was my friend, and most of us here today already know of her accomplishments and how much of a difference she made,” Hahn said. “I hope that this post office dedication and the unveiling of the plaque will add to the pride and happy memories of all who loved her and worked with her.”
Millender-McDonald, D-Carson, wrote legislation to increase diabetes research among women and minorities; directed the National Archives to preserve records of former black slaves; and oversaw the American Asian Justice Act, which allows foreign-born children of soldiers to search for their families.
Millender-McDonald became chair of the Committee on House Administration, which oversees operations of the House and federal election procedures, in 2007 when Democrats regained control of the House.
Millender-McDonald was first elected to Congress in a 1996 special election after two-term Democratic Rep. Walter R. Tucker III was convicted of extortion and tax fraud for actions he took while mayor of Compton.
Millender-McDonald was re-elected six times to represent a district that included Long Beach, Compton, Carson and portions of South Los Angeles. Hahn represents portions of the areas Millender-McDonald represented.
Millender-McDonald died on April 22, 2007 of cancer at the age of 68.
Born on Sept. 7, 1938,in Birmingham, Alabama, Millender-McDonald was a mother of five by age 26. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Redlands in 1981 and a master’s degree from Cal State Los Angeles in 1988.
Millender-McDonald taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District and was director of gender equity programs for the district and a manuscript editor for Images, a textbook company aimed at promoting the self-esteem of young women.
Millender-McDonald started out in politics working for then-Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley’s unsuccessful 1982 campaign for governor. She was elected to the Carson City Council in 1990 and was a member of the Assembly from 1993-96.
H.R. 5687 was approved by the House on a voice vote Dec. 8, passed the Senate by unanimous consent on Dec. 15 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 18.
“From her days in the California Assembly to serving here in the House, Juanita Millender-McDonald dedicated her career to advocating for the Los Angeles public school system, job training, women’s equality and women’s health and combating the drug epidemic that was tearing apart her community,” Hahn said in a Dec. 8 speech on the House floor in support of the bill.
“Her advocacy on behalf of the victims of genocide and human trafficking serves as a lasting testament to her dedication to creating a better world.”
—City News Service
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