Jamaican-American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has taken her 8th Oath of Office at the start of the historic 117th United States Congress.

“We ushered in the 117th Congress — the most diverse Congress in our nation’s history —  and I proudly took my 8th Oath of Office to represent New York’s 9th Congressional District,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) on Tuesday following her swearing-in for her eight consecutive, two-year term.

“While this is often a celebratory occasion, we must not forget we are beginning this new Congress during a time of extraordinary difficulty,” added the representative for the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York.

“Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, we have experienced more than 350,000 tragic deaths, over 20 million infections, an unprecedented economic crisis, a racial reckoning,” continued Clarke, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce, and Homeland Security Committees.

“The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated many of the inequalities plaguing our nation. Still, it has served as an opportunity for House Democrats to focus on the critical issues to the American people.”

With the passing of the US$900 billion pandemic relief bill, the congresswoman said communities have begun receiving enhanced unemployment benefits, US$600 direct cash payments and protections against evictions.

She said the legislation is “a strong beginning to continued efforts to accomplish all that we had hoped.”

Clarke said navigating this pandemic has been “extremely challenging,” adding, however, that “we have seen many within our communities that have been most adversely impacted and marginalized arise as true champions for democracy.

“Additionally, I find it alarming that some of my colleagues are utilizing this difficult time to advance divisive agendas to contest the electoral college results,” she said, alluding to a statement by late US Congressman John Lewis.

“‘The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy,’” she quoted Lewis as saying.

“These efforts are futile and harmful to our democracy; now is not the time for division,” Clarke said. “Now is the time for unity, and the strengthening and preservation of our democracy.

“I am proud to continue representing the residents of the 9th Congressional District as we strive towards more accountability, transparency and truth in supporting the needs of the American people,” she added.

CMC