tv Portrait Unveiling Ceremony for Representative John Conyers CSPAN August 28, 2015 1:01pm-1:55pm EDT
american history. on c-span saturday at 6:00 p.m. eastern, hurricane katrina's tenth anniversary, with live coverage from new orleans of the public commemoration. speakers include president bill clinton and new orleans mayor mitch landrieu. and sunday evening at 6:30 on our road to the white house coverage, speeches from democratic candidates hillary clinton and bernie sanders at the democratic national committee summer meeting in minneapolis. on c-span2, book tv on saturday. at 10:00 p.m. on after words, author dan el padilla peralta talks to liz robins about his book "undocumented," tracing his journey in the u.s. from undocumented to top of his class at princeton. sunday, many programs about hurricane katrina. on american history tv on c-span3 saturday afternoon, a few minutes past 2:00 p.m.,
former nasa astronaut don thomas discusses the history of space station, comparing the development of american and russian programs since the early 1950s and looking at the future of international space station efforts. sunday at 4:00 p.m. on reel america, appointment in tokyo is a 1945 u.s. army signal corps film documenting the course of world war ii in the pacific theater from the japanese . get our complete schedule at c-span.org. up next, a portrait unveiling for long-time house judiciary committee member john conyers. then attorney general eric holder, vice president joe biden and former chairman james sensenbrenner at the event honoring the michigan democrat who has been on the committee for 50 years and is the longest serving member of the u.s. house.
i guess we'll go ahead and get started. i'm going to assume everyone has a program with -- when it gets a little too loud, i'm going to stop because this is a very important occasion. we've waited a long time for this. all you have to do is look portraits, and it's going to be very interesting to have the congressman looking over at all of these individuals, all of these individuals looking over at the congressman. but i'm joe madison with sirius/xm radio, the urban view. and i am going to get started right away as we should start.
and that is with the invocation. and our good friend, the right reverend dr. wendell anthony, who is not only president of the detroit ncaap, but is he also and most importantly the pastor of the great fellowship chapel. if he would come forward and give us the invocation. >> thank you, joe. let me say good afternoon to everybody. and i do want to say to congressman john conyers, the dean and longest serving of congressional black caucus and longest serving congressman currently in the history of the u.s. congress for the historic -- [ applause ] -- for the historic occasion for which we have gathered. to him and his family and those who live in detroit, we're very proud of this international
individual who has led the way for so many. i just have to say this, when congressman conyers was the chair of the house judiciary committee several years ago, 2007 to 2011, i remember sitting in this room for a congressional hearing and a judiciary committee hearing. and i looked at all of the portraits on the wall, and i said to the chairman, chairman, i look forward to coming back to this house on the day in which your picture graces this wall along with these other chairmen. well, today is that day. give the lord a hand of praise. and we want to thank him. y'all can do better than that. this is historic. we want to thank god for this day. and so we're here because we're pleased and we want to thank god for the occasion that we've gathered here. let us have a word of prayer. great god, we thank you for this occasion by which we have now
gathered. we thank for -- since 1813 there have been men who have graced these walls and this responsibility. since inengel so will and now jn conyers jr. as the first afri n african-american chairman of the house judiciary committee as one whose life emulates your word. when you've asked a simple question, who does the lord require of thee but to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our god. well, today, john conyers has actualized a dream of dr. king. he is standing because rosa sat down. he is marching because king did not stop. 50 years after the voting rights act, 50 years after we have struggled on that bloody sunday, we now have this glorious tuesday by which we can come together to celebrate life and
the ability of a nation to live up to a portion of its creed and to honor those whose very lives honor the law and the lessons of liberty. john conyers has been a true servant for peace. he has been for women and minorities. he has been for labor. he has been for the majority. he has been for law and order. he has been for all of those things that you have asked, by the least of these, if you've done it for them, you've done it for me. today we honor john conyers because his life has honored us. we pray that simply a monicum of what he has done over his career, over his vocation, over his mission as a congressman in these united states, will serve as an example and clarient call as he so eloquently demonstrated
by his walk and his talk, that an injustice to anyone anywhere is a threat to justice to everyone everywhere. we thank, as we unveil this portrait, for it reflects not just a portrait of him but a portrait of us, by which we might go out and do justice to love mercy and to walk humbly with our god. we thank you for this day. we thank you for john conyers. we thank you for his work, and may we go out and do our own. in the name of the most high god do we pray, let us all say, amen. >> many of you have been to kashs here at the capitol at the rayburn building. and as you know, members of congress come and go. and i've been instructed by lillian and others that i won't
have the responsibility of introducing each of the members of congress. if you have your program, you know who you are and you know what order you're supposed to speak in, and i would hope that you would then do just that. i have been asked to just simply discuss the occasion. but what i'd like to do is something that just happened to fall in my lap, congressman conyers, this morning. every morning i read on our show black history facts. one an hour. and in the 9:00 hour, i came -- we -- the producers gave me the following factoid. the black history fact. and i'm going to read it. house resolution hr-40 was
brought before the first session of the 105th congress on this very date, january 6, 1989. house resolution 40 was the first formal attempt to obtain reparations to compensate african-americans for slavery since reconstruction. briefly, hr-40 read as follows. to acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the united states and the 13 american colonies between 1619 and 1865, and to establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery. subsequently, the racial and
economic discrimination against african-americans and the impact of these forces on living african-americans and to make recommendations to congress on appropriate remedies. hr-40, those words were written and introduced by congressman john conyers, 1989, on this very date. history has repeated itself. ladies and gentlemen, now i will invite the various members of congress to come forth. congressman sensenbrenner, thank you very much for being here. oh, i'm sorry. there they go. and then congressman clyburn comes in and says, you don't have the order. i've got the order. yes, leader, i do have the order. now, if they will follow the
order, then we'll move ahead. >> chairman, a pleasure. >> how are you? >> wow. this is quite a turnout. it's not at all difficult to understand when you have the brand-new, newly minuted dean of the united states house of representatives -- [ applause ] -- having quite a day. first he gets to swear in the speaker of the house and then he gets a public hanging in the same day. but it's one that is well-deserved and i have long looked forward to as well. we've had former chairman brooks hanging up there for a long time. and i've been telling chairman conyers for a long time that it was about time that his portrait appear up above the dioce here in the judiciary committee
because of his long service, 50 years on this committee -- 50 years on the house judiciary committee. that is a remarkable achievement. but it's also one that has informed members on both sides of the aisle. because i look to chairman conyers in my work as chairman of this committee as someone who has lead this committee which deals with some of the most contentious issues that we face in the congress with the kind of respect and demeanor that we all would hope to have. first of all i want to say, john, i have learned much from you. i have learned that we can disagree without being disagreement. i think that is one of the things that you like saying the most. we have also found many, many areas to work together on. and i look forward to continuing that and, perhaps, i think another 50 years might be a lot, but you might -- you might set the record for the longest
service in the house of representatives. that's just another ten years. can you do that? i think he can do that. what do you think, folks? [ applause ] absolutely. i want to commend you, i want to commend your staff, led by perry applebom, and all the other good people who have worked for you now and -- [ applause ] -- and i think in part this room is full because there are a lot of people here who used to work for you and have gone on do other great things as well. so, it's an honor for me to be here. i look forward to seeing this newport trat. i look forward to hanging this newport trat. and i look forward to working with you for many years to come. god bless and you god bless your service on the house judiciary committee. general holder, it is a pleasure to have you here as well. i think we're going to be joined by the vice president soon. that's a sign of the respect that you have for your long service in this committee. thank you all for being here.
[ applause ] >> thank you from the bottom of my heart. thank you. >> thank you very much. joe madison wanted to introduce me, but i think he wanted to get back at me. i wanted to say a couple of things that may be -- may not be known by a lot of you. i recently released a memoir and i called it "blessed experiences." and the reason i called it that is because i view the experiences i've had over my life, irrespective of how unpleasant some of them may have been, as real blessings. and among those blessings was way back in the late '60s and early '70s when i got to interact with john conyers.
now, there was a significant movement taking place across the country in those days. we were very interested in changing the paradigm. and one of the changes we thought needed to be made was in the chairmanship of the committee that runs washington. it just so happens that that committee was being chaired by one of my predecessors here in the congress. a gentleman from the sixth congressional district of south carolina, who we felt needed to be replaced if we were going to get some modicum of justice for the people of the district muof
columbia. john conyers came to south carolina, and i met him through my child mood friends, jim felder, who served on his staff. and we walked the streets of the sixth congressional district. and we were not successful the first time. but we believed in that old adage, if at first you don't succeed, try and try again. and we came back, and on the second time we were able to replace john l. macmillan, who chaired the committee that kept the city of washington sort of as a plantation. i walked the streets with john. it was when that experience was over and i said to myself, i
believe i could do this. and so, john, i can't tell you how proud i am to be here and to be a part of this program. and to say thank you. it's kind of interesting. but every time i've offered for any office in the caucus, chair the caucus, black caucus, full democratic caucus, the one person who when he heard the rumor that i might be running, john always came to me and said, now, if the rumor is true, and you're going to do this, i want to be part of your kitchen cabinet. i never had to ask him for help or a vote. i don't know what he saw in me,
but from that day, when i could only dream about being a member of the congress way back in the '70s, he saw something in me. and i want you to know, john, i always saw something in you. something that i would like to be just as soon as i grow up. thank you so much. [ applause ] >> i love you. thank you. >> thank you. >> well, when i was first asked to come and rejoice at the public hanging of john conyers, i wondered what kind of words republicans could add to these kinds of proceedings. then i heard that joe biden was going to come to speak, and you know he goes to a lot of funerals.
and after thinking a little bit, i could say, thank heavens that first impressions are not lasting impressions. and when i thought about what i was going to say here today, i would just like to go back to when i became the chairman in january of 2001. and this committee had a reputation of maybe 20 to 30 years of being the cesspool of partisan arguments and not really accomplishing a heck of a lot in terms of legislation. i sat down with john and i said, look, i'm going to treat you fairly, i'm going to give you more staff than at that time the democrats were entitled to. i'm not going to surprise you. and in return, i said, you know, i want no filibustering by amendment. and if i have to move the previous question, i would warn
you two or three times. i only had to do that twice in my six years as chairman. furthermore, i never had to sign a subpoena either, unlike a lot of what has been going on here. and that was because i found john conyers to be a person who keeps his word, a person of integrity, you know, a person who realizes it's not partisan discourses that will set the type of history that is made of the judiciary committee. and as a result, there were 115 judiciary committee bills in that six years that were passed and signed by the president. now, you know, that required a lot of cooperation in this room and between staff. but it also required a lot of cooperation between the two of us and going over to the funeral parlor on the other side of the
capitol and saying, hey, look, this is something that will be good for the country and that both of us believe that good government is good politics and good politics is good government. john, this is a much deserved hanging. i'm honored that you asked me to speak here. this is not something that we talk about, those who have come and gone from this place. i'm glad you're here and i hope you stay here for a while. god bless you. [ applause ] >> you changed on me. all right. >> no. i'm so pleased to put joe madison in his place.
the leader is not here and i have been asked as the assistant leader to introduce our next speaker. you know, it's easy to introduce a person who needs no introduction. the fact of the matter is, all of us know eric holder. i'm not too sure that all of us knew him, the real eric holder, before he became our attorney general. eric holder has moved that office to a level many of us never thought we would see. he has shown the kind of compassion for the law that a lot of us, especially those of
us growing up in the south, looked for when we thought about the fulfillment of our dreams and our aspirations. i've sat down with sensenbrenner and john in his office, looking at court decisions, working on trying to figure out ways to move a positive agaendaagenda. and i can tell you without any equivocation, eric holder is the epitome of what martin luther king jr. said when he said, all of us can be great because all of us can serve. he is the epitome of a public servant. and, ladies and gentlemen, i am pleased to present him at this time.
[ applause ] >> thank you, sir. >> good afternoon. i spent many an interesting day in this room. [ laughter ] ron, you can attest to that, right? >> it's a pleasure for me to be here today for this occasion. it's a tremendous privilege to join so many distinguished guests, colleagues, friends and members of congress as we recognize congressman john conyers, the dean of the house of representatives for his lifetime of dedicated service as we celebrate his leadership and his many invaluable contributions. and as we unveil the portrait that will adorn the walls of the great institution that he has so faithfully served for over four decades. and that he will, no doubt, continue to serve with honor and
integrity. i'm confident for years to come. from the moment that john conyers began his patriotic service in the michigan national guard, the united states army corps of engineers joined the korean war to his presence in selma, alabama, on freedom day in 1963, from his election to the united states house of representatives in 1964, to his chairmanship of the judiciary committee, to his current status as dean of the house and longest serving member of the united states congress, this extraordinary leader's life has been defined by a singular drive to serve. his actions have been guided by deep and abiding love of country and of community. and his service has been animated by an unwavering commitment to the cause of justice. as one of the 13 founding members of the congressional black caucus, representative conyers helped to bring together
other trailblazers and pioneers in order to empower and to give voice to people of color throughout our great nation. years ago he led the fight to secure appropriate recognition for the reverend dr. martin luther king jr. by introducing legislation to establish a national holiday in his honor. and at every stage of his extremely distinguished career, through times of trial and great consequence, he has dedicated himself to advancing the principles of universal human dignity, tolerance, as well as respect. as a major proponent of the violence against women act of 1994, he joined with then-senator joe biden and other congressional leaders to bring help and hope to millions of americans who had too long suffered in silence, fighting to end poisonous notion that violence in a person's home was a private affair. as a champion of legislative efforts like the vote erbil of 1993 and the help america vote act of 2002, he has consistently
worked to ensure that every eligible american will always have fair and free access to that most fundamental of rights, access to the ballot box, the ability of the right to vote. no matter who they are, no matter what they look like or where they live. he continued that work in the 113th congress with representative sensenbrenner, another strong leader and former chairman of this committee, encrafting legislation to address the void that was left by the supreme court's unfortunate decision to invalidate one of the core provisions of the voting rights act. now, representative conyers has also been a key leader and a partner on fairness and sentencing from his work in passing the law that reduced the unjust dissparety in tensing for crack and powder cocaine to others like bobby scott and rawl labrador who realized we must
make common sense changes to our federal sentencing scheme. not just for fundamental fairness but for the sustainability of our budget. as chairman of the united states house committee on the judiciary, he's been a key national leader and a vital partner in the justice department's ongoing effort to secure or nation to protect the american people from crime, and to ensure the full rights and protections of our constitution for everyone in this country. time and again i and numerous other attorneys general have relied upon congressman conyers' sound judgment, his extensive expertise, his fierce advocacy and his honest counsel, his honest counsel to strengthen the rule of law while advancing our most sacred principles and most cherished freedoms. i have always appreciated the unique insight, the remarkable wisdom and the consistent devotion to service that he has brought to every challenge that has come before him.
on a very personal level, over the years i have also come to regard congressman conyers not only as an important partner and valued friend, but also as a man who made it possible, made it possible, for me and barack obama to attain the positions that we now hold. we stand -- [ applause ] >> we stand on this man's broad shoulders. [ applause ] so, congressman, i want to thank you once again for your outstanding service and for the enumerable contributions you have made to the nation and on behalf of the citizens we're all honored to serve. your unique had place in the history of this great institution is much more than assured. and today with the formal dedication of this portrait we pay, i think, a fitting tribute to a legacy and a shining example that will continue to guide and inspire generations of
lawmakers in this new congress and long into the future, just as it has inspired countless leaders and attorneys general over the last four decades, including me. thank you very much. ♪ applause ] >> if the vice president is in the house, would he please come forward? >> i'll be honest with you, i didn't even know he was here. i just -- it's the first time
i've summoned the vice president of the united states and he showed up. >> thank you. >> thank you. you want me? >> no, you're in. >> all right. i'm in. hi, jim. how are you? well, what an honor to be here. john, you and i have been doing this a long time. >> we have been. >> and i was thinking on the way over, trying to calculate, i served in the judiciary committee in the -- on the senate side for a long time. but when we leave, we don't get portraits. but, john, you and i have worked on an awful lot. you long before me. but for over 25 years as counterparts on the committees, and it's an honor to be in the presence of the dean. john, you've served this committee and this nation for a half a century now. and if you're like me, you probably don't like that being mentioned that often.
but it's true. and you have really served. but i's not really about the years the chairman has served. it's about the service he's rendered during those years. it's not enough to say that you've helped pass the original voting rights act, because you've spent every day since that day, john, every day, defending and expanding the promise of that act. you've fought the battles to create a national holiday honoring dr. king. but you still fought and are fighting the war for the principles that dr. king stood for. civil rights, economic justice, opportunity, equal educational opportunity. you made rosa parks one of your first hires.
and you stood then, as you do now, long before it was fashionable. you stood for protection and equal rights for women from the day you assumed office. and three decades later you stood by me as we fought together in the house and the senate to pass the violence against women act. you were a powerful voice here and nationally to get that done. john, at the dawn of an era that brought us both to public service, john kennedy said, president kennedy said, our success or failure will be measured by the answer to four questions. were we truly men of courage? were we truly men of judgment? were we truly men of integrity? and were we truly men of
dedication? john, by president kennedy's standard, you have been a great success, as everyone in this room and for two generations has known and understood throughout this country. you've shown your courage and your convictions time and again. a lot of people have convictions. but not everyone has the courage of their convictions to stand up for them and take the slings and arrows that come sometimes from being ahead of your time. it takes a lot to have the courage to stand by them, even when it's very hard. but you have. john, you've shown judgment
throw your leadership and the congress as a whole. but in this committee in particular, you've shown judgment in the staff you've hired and the people you have mentored over these years. some really fine, fine people have come out of your tutelage to go on to do great things. and, john, you've always shown integrity. the one highest coin in the realm of the congress, i believe, is do you keep your word? do you do what you say? do you not conveniently say, when i made that commitment circumstances were different. i hope you understand now. you never once said that, john, that i'm aware of. at least never, never to me. and you've shown dedication, john. you've never wavered from the goal that brought you to public service in the first place.
when i got elected like you as a young man at 30 years old, i was 29 when i got elected to the senate, and everyone in delaware from that point on in general election would come and say, what's the secret? because they thought, hell, if i won, anybody -- there must be a secret. it couldn't be just being able to run and campaign and there had to be -- i mean, i'm being very serious. they didn't mean to be insulting, but it's like, there's got to be a secret. and i'd tell them all the same thing, whoever asked advice, i'd say, have you to know what you're willing to lose over. you have to know what you'd rather lose than have to change. john, you've never not known what you're about. you always had that north star, man.
you have never, ever, ever walked away from it. john, there are portraits and there are portraits. this portrait of a son of a uaw worker, who for over a half century helped define an era. in literal terms you helped define an era, john. this is a portrait. it is a portrait that symbolizes that distinctly american commitment to service and dedication. it's a portrait that sets a standard. and, john, 20, 30 years from now, young members and their staffs are going to walk in and say, i heard of that guy.
no, i mean it. they're going to say, i heard of that guy. that was a time of profound change in the american landscape. it was a time of profound alteration, who we defined -- of how we defined ourselves and who we were. and, john, you helped that definition. and this country will be well served of everyone who sits on this committee and the counterpart committee and the other body which i served, where to strive to meet the measure of the portrait. the measure of a portrait of a man, i might add, continues to serve beneath that portrait. thank goodness. ladies and gentlemen, it's a great honor to be here. and, john, it's a great honor to be with you and be presumttuous
enough to call you a friend. and i think i'm your friend. [ applause ] >> thank you. thank you very much. i'm not leaving. i'm going to stay for the unveiling. i'm not leaving. i want to see the portrait. >> i'm going to now press my luck. i summoned the vice president of the united states and he showed up. and i looked around and i said, is the democratic leader of the house here? and i hadn't seen her. and so i'm going to -- i guess i can summon her now. i'm in talk -- let me tell you, i'm in talk show heaven. you get to -- huh? i tell you, you get to stand here next to all the people, and you look out and i see my good friend, michael eric dyson and his wife. so many of you.
but, ladies and gentlemen, i've got a 14-month-old granddaughter. and i just can't wait until she gets of age so that i can tell her when someone says, where is the woman's place supposed to be, i can tell her, any place she wants it to be. and including the house of representatives. ladies and gentlemen, the honorable nancy pelosi, house democratic leader. [ applause ] >> thank you. thank you, mr. madison. bit time your little granddaughter is of age, a woman's place for a long time will also be in the white house. not just the house of representatives. my friends, since i am, i believe, the last speaker, i'm standing between you and the portrait. so i will be brief.
but i will say that it is an honor to be here with all of you. and the reason i was arriving late is because i was wishing don edwards happy birthday on his 100th birthday. and john conyers, he sends you his congratulations and best regards. >> thank you. >> for some of us, that's a lot of history in the room. the vice president has spoken so eloquently about john conyers' association with rosa parks. she convinced -- it didn't take much, i'm sure -- the reverend martin luther king jr. to endorse john conyers for public office. the only person martin luther king jr. ever endorsed for public office. what more do you need to know? what more do you need to know? that the vice president and john conyers are here with their shared values, the violence against women act, issues that relate to hate crimes, gun safety, all the things that have
been a struggle of security and civil rights and the rest, they have championed to protect us, but to protect our ritsz ghts ae same time. i have to tell you one this one story. you tell me if it's appropriate or not. i just can't resist. ron delmams -- so we californians feel very proprietary about john conyers. whether it is copyright or whatever it is. he started the day. he led the prayers in the catholic church this morning. you didn't know that, did you? he began the prayer service, right? >> exactly. >> went on to the black caucus meeting where people were cheering because it was announced that he was going to be swearing in all of the members of congress as the dean of the house. and he went to the floor and did just that. the dean of the house, swearing -- all of us took the oath at the direction of john
conyers. so, there's so much to be said about him. he's a statesman. we're going to have this beautiful picture unveiled in his honor. have i to tell you this story. so, ron tells me that when he was coming to congress, he worshipped at the shrine of john conyers. worshipped at the shrine of john conyers. but everybody saw that ron dellums was way out there and the rest, and he was determined to come to congress and look very regular and not too menacing to some people who might think he was too left wing, if that's the word. so he comes to congress. he's all set. he's got his suit. he's all ready for the next day. and he's going to go in there on the floor and everybody's going to say, hey, i can identify with him. he's a regular guy. and he gets a call the night before from john conyers. i don't know if this is even true, but this is the -- ron's story. he says he's all set.
got his clothes out there. you know how precise he was. and he said, john con engineers called me and asked me if i would nominate him for speaker against carl albert the next morning. what do you say, man? regular order, you know, of course, what john conyers says, ron dellums does. so this man has been a disrupter from the start. and thank god he has been a disrupter from the start. and now as the vice president said to beautifully, and what an honor to have the vice president, members of the cabinet here, all members of congress, former, and leaders of the house of representatives here for john conyers for the unveiling of his portrait, but as the vice president said so beautifully, when people come here to this capitol, to this campus of the capitol, and they
will see this painting and they will know that this was a person who has made a difference in their lives, in their lives. in so many different ways. not just because he was the first african-american ever to serve on the judiciary committee. the first. bringing that intellect, that progressive set of values to it, that different perspective, that was disruptive, that made a difference in all of our lives and for generations to come. that's why it's so appropriate that this evening we unveil a portrait of a great man, a great statesman, a disruptive, transformative force in our country, a person that when they unveiled his portrait, the vice
president stayed to hear somebody else's speech so he could see exactly what was in that portrait. and that is a tremendous compliment to john conyers. thank you, john conyers. [ applause ] >> who's going to pull the string? >> i'm going to bring up your family now. >> okay. >> all right. and mrs. monica conyers, will you come up, please? john conyers iii and also carl conyers. give them all a round of applause as i present them. >> let's do it. >> i'm sorry, what did you want? oh, okay. oh s this how they do it?
going to -- i've been asked if i could just get everyone's attention for one moment, because it is appropriate that we -- we started with invocation, and itinvocation and it is appropriate that we end with benediction. and as you know the benediction is not the end, it's really the beginning. it's when you turn out and do the work that we're here to do. ladies and gentlemen, let me bring forth the bishop and senior pastor of greater grace temple of detroit, michigan, bishop charles ellis iii for the benediction. >> as we bring this portion of this event and this most sacred and unveiling of this portrait together, i would ask that you would touch each other and just connect one with the other. where there is unity there is
strength. a house divided cannot stand but if we're unified we can do anything. lord, we thank you for this special ceremony. and we thank you for this time of honoring this great warrior, this statesman who has served in excellence, man of integrity, a man of impeccable honor. we thank you for his life. we thank you for his health and for his strength. and as we would say in the church down through the years, you've been mighty good to him. we ask you to continue to keep him in the hollow of your hands. continue to keep his mind strong, his body healthy and he may continue to be a champion for all of us, your people. and we pray that you will grant him continued strength, bless his families they're going out and they're coming in.