Elizabeth Furse

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Elizabeth Furse

Template:TOCnestleft Elizabeth Furse was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Oregon.

In 1992, Ms. Furse was elected to U.S.Congress representing Oregon’s First Congressional District where she was the first woman to represent this district, and the first African born member of the United States Congress.

Furse served until 1999 when she chose to retire and return home to Oregon. The committees she served on included, Armed Services, Banking, and Commerce. Her focus in Congress was on reducing military spending, protecting the environment, defending a woman’s right to choose, as well as supporting adequate funding of diabetes research.

Elizabeth Furse and her husband, John C. Platt own Helvetia Vineyards in Washington County, where they have lived for over twenty years.[1]


Born in Nairobi Kenya, Elizabeth Furse moved to South Africa as a child. Inspired by her mother Barbara, Furse’s activism against apartheid caused Elizabeth to join the first Black Sash demonstration in Cape Town in 1951. This experience set the stage for a life of activism and commitment to civil rights.

Furse moved to England in 1956, and then married and moved to Los Angeles, California where her children Amanda and John were born. While in Los Angeles, Furse was involved in a women’s self help project in Watts and assisted in Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers efforts to unionize the grape fields.

Indian activism

On relocating to Seattle in 1968, Furse became involved with the Native American fishing rights struggle and co-founded Citizens for Indian Rights, a non-Indian support organization which did grass roots education on the law of treaties and the solemn obligations that flow from such treaties. This organization became the National Coalition to the Support Indian Treaties.

Furse became a US citizen in 1972, and in 1978 she moved to Oregon where she attended Northwestern School of Law for two years before leaving to direct the Restoration Project of Native American Program of Oregon Legal Services (NAPOLS). Oregon Tribes had been devastated by the Termination Era with 56 tribes and bands having their federal relationship terminated by Act of Congress in 1954. From 1980-86 Furse coordinated the successful passage of three Acts of Congress to restore the federal status of the Coquille Tribe (1982) Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde (1983) and the Klamath Tribe (1986).

Ms. Furse directs the Institute for Tribal Government at the Hatfield School of Government. The Institute provides governance training to elected tribal officials across the nation.[2]

Peace Institute

In 1986, Furse co-founded the Oregon Peace Institute, located in downtown Portland. OPI mission is to develop and disseminate conflict resolution curriculum for Oregon schools.[3]

DSA endorsement given then revoked

This announcement appeared in the September/October 1996 issue of Democratic Socialists of America's newsletter Democratic Left.[4]

In the last issue of Democratic Left, we reported that Carlos Romero-Barcelo (Puerto Rico at-large), a member of the Progressive Caucus, was endorsed by DSA PAC. We realize that this endorsement was a mistake and have withdrawn it".
Likewise, DSA PAC voted to withdraw endorsements of Peter DeFazio (OR-4th District) and Elizabeth Furse (OR-lst District).

Congressional Progressive Caucus

In 1998 Elizabeth Furse Democrat was listed as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[5]

"No New War on Iraq!"

Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Furse was keynote speaker for the "No New War on Iraq!" march and rally for peace at noon on Saturday, October 5th 2002, starting at the South Park Blocks in downtown Portland. In addition to Congresswoman Furse, speakers included John Linder of Rethinking Schools, Mazen Malik of the Palestinian Arab-American Association, and Aliyah Strauss, president of WILPF of Israel. [6]

Communist inspired letter to defund Colombian military

Sam Farr had been a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, and was contacted by the communist dominated Colombia Support Network in 1997. Efforts by Colombia Support Network were instrumental in getting a letter sent to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, with the 19 other members signing on. The January 30, 1998 letter called for the continued suspension of funding to the Colombian military then engaged in a bloody civil war against communist guerillas.

Dear Secretary Albright :
We are writing to express our concern with the worsening human rights situation in Colombia and urge you to take steps to address this matter.
News reports and first-hand accounts indicate that violence in Colombia is escalating, particularly in the country's northern most regions and the southern coca growing regions. Many different groups and individuals have been implicated in the violence, but an increasing number of human rights abuses are being instigated by paramilitary groups --armed civilians who torture, evict, kidnap and murder Colombian civilians.
There is also evidence of links between paramilitaries and local drug lords, who rely on paramilitary groups to undertake violent activities on their behalf. The Peasant Self-Defense Group of Cordoba and Uraba, a paramilitary group lead by Carlos Castano, is considered one of the most powerful paramilitary groups in Colombia. Reports indicate that last yeqar Castano's group killed hundreds, if not more than a thousand, peasants it accused of helping rebels.

As concerned Members of Congress, we urge you to place the issue of human rights and the problem of paramilitary groups in the forefront of your priority list in your dealings with Colombia. We understand that aid to the Colombian army is currently on hold because of human rights concerns and urge you to continue to withhold funding.

Signatories were;Sam Farr, John Porter, Ron Dellums, David Bonior, Marty Meehan, Marcy Kaptur, Scott Klug, James McGovern, Elizabeth Furse, Jim Oberstar, Peter DeFazio, Maurice Hinchey, Gerald Kleczka,John Conyers, Pete Stark, Robert Wexler, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Lane Evans, David Price, Sherrod Brown, [7]

Supported by Council for a Livable World

The Council for a Livable World, founded in 1962 by long-time socialist activist and alleged Soviet agent, Leo Szilard, is a non-profit advocacy organization that seeks to "reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security", primarily through supporting progressive, congressional candidates who support their policies. The Council supported Elizabeth Furse in her successful House of Representatives run as candidate for Oregon.[8]

EMILY's List

Furse has been supported by EMILY's List during her campaigning.