Originally posted by LA Times Wire Serivces, 1/3/05 Rep. Robert T. Matsui of California, a World War II internee who rose to become one of the top Asian-Americans in Congress during 26 years of service, died late Saturday, his office announced yesterday. He was 63. One of the Democratic Party's leading spokesmen on tax and Social Security issues, Mr. Matsui was hospitalized at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda on Dec. 24, suffering from pneumonia. His office said myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare bone marrow disease that compromises the body's ability to fight infection, had been diagnosed several months before.
Mr. Matsui, a senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, was expected to be one of his party's leaders in the likely battle in Congress this year over President Bush's proposal to overhaul Social Security.
Although he bucked party orthodoxy with his aggressive support of free trade, he had just completed a two-year stint as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The position made him the first Asian-American to serve in the top levels of the House Democratic leadership but left him disappointed because Republicans ended up expanding their majority in the House in the November elections.
Originally posted by AP, 1/3/05Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress and a strong advocate for women and minorities during seven terms in the House, died Saturday, friends said. She was 80.
"She was our Moses that opened the Red Sea for us," said Robert E. Williams, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Flagler County, late yesterday. He did not have the details of her death.
Ms. Chisholm, who was raised in a predominantly black New York City neighborhood and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1968, was a riveting speaker who often criticized Congress as being too clubby and unresponsive.
"My greatest political asset, which professional politicians fear, is my mouth, out of which come all kinds of things one shouldn't always discuss for reasons of political expediency," she told voters.