Yes, it’s sad but true.  I got the call from my boss this morning and it comes only days after she announced that she was taking a leave of absence for cancer treatment.

Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald was one of my favorite Members.  She was smart and feisty.  While I didn’t always agree with some of her votes, she was a strong Black woman with an even stronger voice.

I last saw her at a town hall meeting relating to the Martin Luther King/Drew Hosipital crisis in Watts.  She held a town hall meeting to talk to the community about the drastic reduction in services that was to happen.  The audience was packed.  She was eloquent and relentless in her passion and commitment to keeping the hospital open on some level.

If you’re not from Los Angeles, King/Drew Hospital sits in the heart of Watts and serves a population that by and large is uninsured.  The services provided to the residents in the area are much needed and when it was announced that those services were going to be shut down, all hell broke lose.

But back to the Congresswoman…

She was in her seventh term representing a heavily Democratic Southern California district that includes Compton, Long Beach and parts of Los Angeles.

Millender-McDonald had recently worked on issues including election reform and opposing the genocide in Darfur. She drew national attention in 1996 when she took then-CIA director John Deutch to Watts to address the community following a San Jose Mercury News newspaper report alleging that profits from domestic sales of crack-cocaine were funneled to the CIA-backed Contras in Nicaragua.

She is survived by her husband, James McDonald, Jr., and five adult children.

Click here to read news report.