DALLAS — Members of Congress joined mourners in Dallas on Tuesday to remember former U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, a day after President Joe Biden came to Texas to pay his respects to the trailblazing congresswoman.
“What a life that she lived,” U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the top House Democrat, told those attending her funeral at Concord Church in Dallas. “A life filled with loving her community. A life filled with leadership for the people. A life that left behind a lasting legacy of transformational change.”
Johnson, who died at age of 89 on Dec. 31, served in Congress for 30 years. On Monday, mourners streamed by as her body lay in state at Dallas’ Fair Park before a wake later that evening that was attended by Biden.
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Jeffries, who noted that more than 25 members of Congress were in attendance at the funeral, said that she served as a guiding force.
Johnson, who was the first registered nurse elected to Congress, helped bring hundreds of millions of federal dollars to the Dallas area and was the region’s most powerful Democrat. She had been the first Black chief psychiatric nurse at Dallas’ Veterans Affairs hospital. She also became the first Black woman to chair the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and she led the Congressional Black Caucus.
“A nurse by training, Congresswoman Johnson always used her position of leadership to bring healing and hope to the people she served,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a video message played at the funeral.
Former President Bill Clinton also said in a video message that “the heat” never bothered Johnson. “She just stood up for what she thought was right,” Clinton said.
Born in Waco, she grew up in the segregated South. In 2019, Dallas’ once-segregated Union Station was renamed in her honor in 2019.
Johnson left office in January after repeatedly delaying her retirement. Before Congress, she served in the Texas Legislature. Her family’s attorney has said Johnson died from an infection she developed at a rehabilitation facility following back surgery in the fall.
There will be a graveside service for Johnson in Austin on Wednesday at Texas State Cemetery, which is the burial site for prominent Texans.
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