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Statement on the Anniversary of the Death of Mickey Leland

August 13, 1999

Hillary and I would like to mark a sad occasion in our Nation's history, the death of Representative Mickey Leland (D-TX). Ten years ago this week, while on a hunger mission to Gambela, Ethiopia, Representative Leland died in a plane crash. A six-term Member of Congress, former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and cofounder and chair of the House Select Committee on Hunger, he was instrumental in bringing the issues of poverty and hunger to our Nation's consciousness. Because of his work, the plight of poverty was eased around the world, in Africa, the countries of the former Soviet Union, and within the United States.

Representative Leland's hallmark legislation, the Africa Famine Relief and Recovery Act of 1985, provided $800 million in food aid and humanitarian relief supplies to the povertystricken continent. One of his quotes effectively illustrates the human rights and moral aspects of the hunger fight: "I cannot get used to hunger and desperate poverty in our plentiful land. There is no reason for it. There is no excuse for it, and it is time that we as a nation put an end to it." This struggle to make economic prosperity inclusive of more of our population has become a focus of the work of my administration. In another example of his foresight, Leland was an outspoken critic of violence on television long before it became the national issue that it is today.

The work of Mickey Leland must go on, and I would like to thank those individuals and organizations working to carry out his legacy. We must never forget Mickey Leland, the pressing issues for which he worked, the voiceless poor for whom he spoke, and the global principles for which he lived.

William J. Clinton, Statement on the Anniversary of the Death of Mickey Leland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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