Reflecting on Senator Ted Kennedy’s Legacy on Civil Rights

September 17, 2009

It’s not even been a month yet since Senator Ted Kennedy passed away, having unfortunately lost his battle with cancer, in the form of a malignant brain tumor.  Already, as the debate rages on about who will step into his role as a Senator from Massachusetts, it becomes blatantly apparent that it will be a long time before anyone truly fills his shoes; the absence of this man’s presence in Washington has not gone unnoticed by those living or working in the District and across the Nation.

Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy

Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy

Anyone who viewed any of the myriad of coverage of his memorial services, funeral, tributes, other dedications, or celebrations of the man’s life could see that it was made clear what an influential, passionate, and respected politician he was – as people on all sides of the political spectrum took a time out to share stories of their experiences with Senator Kennedy as the world watched and grieved at our collective loss.

As the third-longest-serving senator in United States history, the list of essential bills that Senator Kennedy was involved in or responsible for passing is more than most Presidents can boast.  However, one undeniable theme is present among so much of the legislation he pushed for – and that is his unwavering support, stubborn dedication, and relentless progressive action for equal rights for all Americans.  Senator Kennedy maintained a steadfast presence in reform regarding an array of causes from disability discrimination and mental health benefits, to children’s health insurance and cancer research, and of course – civil rights.

Senator Ted Kenney, the "Lion of the Senate", gives one of his famous rousing speeches.

Senator Ted Kenney, the "Lion of the Senate", gives one of his famous rousing speeches.

Kennedy’s campaign appearance in support of then-Democratic-Presidential-contender Barack Obama on the day before Super Tuesday is largely viewed as a major factor in Obama’s successes that day.  Once elected, President Obama made a statement thanking Senator Kennedy, crediting key legislation the he had pushed over the years as being part of the reason he was even able to run for President in 2008.  USA RiseUp posted a great piece last month about Senator Kennedy’s impact on race relations during his Senate tenure.

Like Senator Kennedy inspired goodwill action in so many Americans, with the hope to create a better country for all to live in, Sojourn to the Past seeks to inspire young people, who may one day end up in influential political, civil, or social positions.  Sojourn educates young people about the history of the fight for civil rights in the United States, and prepares them to have the knowledge and experience to draw from when called upon to lead others in the constant movement towards equal rights – among all people.

For more information on Senator Ted Kennedy, and his life and legacy, visit his Senate page on the web.


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