Kennedy Tributes From Wide Spectrum

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Inspired by the noblest of ideals – a life of service in pursuit of justice, equality, and peace – Senator Kennedy’s compassion and charisma were matched only by his extraordinary legislative accomplishments over five decades.

[A Lion At Rest]

The following are tributes that have been coming in all day into The Black Star News offices from around the country from leading political figures.


By President Barack Obama

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For nearly five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well-being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives -- in seniors who know new dignity; in families that know new opportunity; in children who know education's promise; and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just, including me.

In the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle. His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth and good cheer. He battled passionately on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintained warm friendships across party lines. And that's one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.

I personally valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've benefited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

His fight gave us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you and goodbye. The outpouring of love, gratitude and fond memories to which we've all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives.
For America, he was a defender of a dream. For his family, he was a guardian. Our hearts and prayers go out to them today -- to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.

Today, our country mourns. We say goodbye to a friend and a true leader who challenged us all to live out our noblest values. And we give thanks for his memory, which inspires us still.


By Michael Bloomberg, Mayor, New York City
There will never be another first family of American politics like the Kennedys, and there will never be another United States Senator like Ted Kennedy. 

Inspired by the noblest of ideals – a life of service in pursuit of justice, equality, and peace – Senator Kennedy’s compassion and charisma were matched only by his  extraordinary legislative accomplishments over five decades.  It was a great honor to join him last April for President Obama’s signing of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which will ensure that his legacy of service will live on in the good works of millions of Americans for years to come.

Senator Kennedy was much more than a great liberal lion and master orator.  He was a pragmatist who reached across the aisle to pass legislation that has improved the lives of people around the world. I particularly admired his bi-partisan leadership on health care, education, and immigration reform, and he was a critical ally in our efforts to ensure that all 9/11 first responders receive the care and treatment they deserve.

But more than all that, I will remember Senator Kennedy as a gracious and generous man, a man with a big heart and a ready laugh, a man who endured terrible family tragedy, and who guided his loved ones – and the whole country – through some of our darkest days.

Today, on behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to his wife, Victoria, his sister Jean, his children, and his entire extended family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.


By Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League
The National Urban League joins the nation in mourning the loss of Senator Edward Kennedy.

Sen. Kennedy leaves a legacy that will live on for many years to come. He was a true champion and one of the most important advocates of civil rights.

As one of the last U.S. Senators who fought for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Sen. Kennedy stood for many of the same rights that we fight for daily - equality, education, employment, and healthcare. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Kennedy family.


By Terry O'Neill, The National Organization for Women (NOW)

The National Organization for Women is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy, the revered Democrat from Massachusetts.

A dedicated public servant, Ted Kennedy was a champion of civil rights, women's equality, voting rights, economic justice, disability rights, reproductive freedom and so much more. 

We lost a true legislative hero in Ted Kennedy -- a defender of women, children and all those who are discriminated against and underserved in this country. We have Kennedy to thank for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. He was a great leader in the fight for health care reform, and I only hope that we can honor him by passing real reform designed to benefit the people -- not insurance CEOs.

Kennedy was committed to creating a level playing field for all, especially those who traditionally have been denied access to the American dream. He will be an extremely hard act to follow.

NOW calls on Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and state officials to follow Kennedy's wishes and take the necessary action to allow for the senator's seat to be filled until a special election can take place. We urge that this replacement be a strong supporter of the broad range of social justice issues that Kennedy advocated for throughout the last half century.


By June O'Neill.

The nation has lost the 'lion of the Senate' and a champion for those who are marginalized and disenfranchised in our country.
Senator Kennedy was an American icon and a hero to millions who admired his strength, grace, intellect and conviction. 

In 1980 I had the privilege of being elected a Ted Kennedy delegate to the Democratic National Convention held that year in Madison Square Garden. 

It was a memorable night when he gave one of the best and most moving speeches of his career. He pledged then to fight for Americans who are unemployed and for national health care insurance.

Last year, as a delegate to the National Convention in Denver, I was among the thousands who were in the hall to see and hear Senator Kennedy deliver what would become his final major public address. There wasn't a dry eye in the house when he finished. He reminded us of how far we had come, and how far we have yet to go. 

He implored the country to support the 'passing of the torch to a new generation' and to make sure that health care became a right not a privilege. Ironically, that marvelous speech was delivered one year ago today. Although we mourn this great loss, Senator Kennedy's legacy lives on.

Senator Kennedy was the standard bearer of the Democratic Party and our values but as a legislator he worked with his Senate colleagues across the aisle to make health insurance available to children in poor families, to raise the minimum wage, to expand job training programs, to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act that barred discrimination with
people with physical disabilities, and the Women, Infants and Children Nutrition program to improve the health of mothers and infants. 

There isn't a piece of major legislation in the last three decades that did not bear Senator Kennedy's hand print.  And, there will be no better way to honor Senator Kennedy than passing affordable health care insurance
for all Americans.


By William C. Thompson, Comptroller, New York City
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, a man who throughout the hardships and losses he faced, continued to stand up and fight for the American people. 

He dedicated his life to the service of others and throughout his 46 years in the Senate, was a voice for the millions of Americans who felt unheard.

Ted Kennedy has been one of the greatest public servants in our country's history. He was strong in his conviction, and worked in a bi-partisan manner to ensure important legislation was passed, always placing the American people first.

He leaves behind a legacy of accomplishment and leadership that is unmatched. My thoughts and prayers remain with the entire Kennedy family during this difficult time.


By Maxine Waters, Congressmember, California
It was with great sorrow that I learned of the passing of Senator Kennedy. I offer my condolences to his family and friends, and also to his millions of admirers and supporters, and I will keep them all in my thoughts and prayers.

There was no one else like Senator Kennedy, and there never will be. The causes he championed during almost half of a century of public service are strong proof that he kept the interests of the most vulnerable Americans in his heart and in his mind, and he applied his pen to these causes, authoring and helping to pass some of our nation's most important pieces of legislation.

He got right to work upon entering the Senate in the early 1960's and was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act - landmark laws that gave minorities a platform on which they could not only stand but from which they could hold their heads high and assert their political strength. Later in his career he helped establish the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, wrote the Americans with Disabilities Act and the bill to create the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and pushed legislation to raise the federal minimum wage.

As a California State Assemblywoman in 1980, I was impressed by Senator Kennedy's legislative record, his idealism, his concern for those in need, and because of his forward-thinking attitude about what our country could be, and therefore I decided to support him as he pursued the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.  I was a delegate at the Democratic Convention and I had the great of seconding his nomination.

When Senator Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama for President last year, he said '[Obama] is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in without demonizing those who hold a different view.' Those words could also have been used to describe Senator Kennedy. He was proud to champion liberal policies and passionate about the issues but always willing to listen to others respectfully and willing to negotiate to find common ground when needed.

My life was enriched by knowing and working with the 'Lion of the Senate'. Though deeply upset by his loss, I am comforted in part by knowing that his legacy will endure, and I will join with fellow progressives in carrying on his work, particularly fulfilling 'the cause of his lifetime' by passing meaningful health care reform.

My heart goes out to his wife Victoria, his children -including my colleague, Congressman Patrick Kennedy - his grandchildren, and the many other family members, friends, and supporters who are mourning his loss today.


By Rick Lazio, former Congressman.
I had the privilege of serving in Congress when Senator Kennedy was in office. He was a remarkable legislator. A few years ago when I was touring the Capitol with my daughter and her classmates Senator Kennedy took the time to come over and greet them and make an otherwise typical visit something they will remember for the rest of their lives.

It showed his love of the institution and his common touch. Senator Kennedy served his country and was fully devoted to public service. His passing is a loss for the entire nation. My heart goes out to his wife and children.By Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator, New York.

Senator Kennedy's dedication for over four decades to help millions of our nation's children, seniors and families is an inspiration to me, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to serve with him in the United States Senate.

While we have lost an American treasure today, Senator Kennedy's rich legacy, historic legislative record and deep commitment to positive change for all Americans will continue to be felt for generations to come.
My thoughts and prayers are with the Kennedy family as they grieve over their loss.


By Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General, New York State

Senator Edward Kennedy fearlessly challenged this country to be better. His loss is tragic, but his legacy will forever endure. It will survive in the generations he transformed, the people he helped, and the country he adored.


By Andy Stern, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
In Senator Kennedy's vision of America, every family has access to affordable healthcare, every worker has a paycheck that supports their family and a secure retirement, every child has a right to a quality education, and every immigrant can achieve the American Dream.

Senator Kennedy spent his entire adult life, through tragedy and triumph, in pursuit of this America. From his first major speech in support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to his last vote on President Obama's economic recovery plan, his
vision of a more perfect nation never wavered.

Because of Senator Kennedy, millions of children have access to healthcare, crucial immunizations, Head Start programs, and grants and loans to make college more affordable. Unemployed workers have access to COBRA and low-income mothers are able to get food, healthcare and other resources for themselves and their children.

People with disabilities are treated with respect and dignity and workers are protected by an adequate minimum wage.
Senator Kennedy's America is our America. It is the America of the nurse in Pittsburgh, the janitor in Miami, and the child care provider in Maine. It is the America that SEIU members continue to fight for. And Senator Kennedy stood
beside us in that fight longer than anyone else.

Senator Kennedy stood with SEIU members on countless picket lines and contract negotiations. He stood with millions of hardworking immigrants and SEIU members to call for comprehensive immigration reform in 2005. He stood with workers fighting for a voice on the job by championing the Employee Free Choice Act. And until his final days he stood with SEIU healthcare workers and other workers to win access to affordable healthcare for all Americans.

Thirty nine years ago, Senator Kennedy introduced his first bill to overhaul our nation's broken healthcare system and provide affordable coverage to all Americans. We stand closer now than ever before to achieving what Senator Kennedy
called the cause of his life.

Let us continue his cause. Let us take action this year to pass healthcare reform. And let us continue to build Kennedy's vision of America.


By Barbara Arnwine, Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights
The civil rights community has lost one of its greatest champions. 

Senator Edward Kennedy played an indispensable role in building the legislative framework over more than four decades that has transformed the United States and provided access to opportunity and justice for countless Americans.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law will always be grateful for the Kennedy family’s commitment to equal rights and racial justice. 

The Committee was founded in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, then serving as Attorney General of the United States, and they were instrumental in guiding its leadership and providing focus in its early years.

Senator Kennedy took up that leadership mantle for the Lawyers’ Committee and never laid it down. He was a civil rights giant and our irreplaceable advocate, always encouraging and supporting us to continue to fulfill the vision of his brothers. 

He understood that leadership by the private bar in the struggle for racial equality and justice for our nation's most vulnerable citizens is critical. In 2003, at its 40th anniversary gala, the organization honored Senator Kennedy with the Beacon of Justice Award in recognition of his lifetime accomplishments in advancing civil rights.

Senator Kennedy’s legacy can be seen in landmark legislation including the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991; the 1965 Voting Rights Act; the Fair Housing Act of 1968; the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 and numerous other measures that sought to better realize the ideals of American Democracy.  

His passion for seeking equal justice for all was undiminished throughout his long career. He was a primary sponsor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed in 2008 and has recently spoken of the inherent right of all Americans to quality health care.
We extend sincere condolences to his wife Victoria, his children and to the entire Kennedy family and wish them peace during this difficult time. 

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment; voting; education and environmental justice. 

By Ralph B. Everett, President and CEO, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
Edward M. Kennedy was already a veteran member of the U.S. Senate when the Joint Center was established nearly 40 years ago, and our founders immediately looked to him for leadership and support. 

Since that time, their initial faith in Senator Kennedy has been richly rewarded many times over. With his unmatched passion for justice and vision of boundless opportunity for every American, Senator Kennedy devoted his extraordinary legislative skills to bringing real, lasting and beneficial change to our nation. 

He made America a better and more hopeful place.

Active and engaged nearly to the end of his extraordinary life and career, his loss will be deeply felt by all who continue to dream of America's promise fulfilled. We will miss him, and at this sad moment we convey our deepest condolences to the Kennedy family.

By The American Jewish Congress
Senator Edward Kennedy was the Senator from Massachusetts for as long as most of us can remember.

To say that he compiled a distinguished legislative record is to do violence to the language. His record on civil rights, education, reproductive freedom, separation of church and state, health care, labor and civil liberties, as well as foreign policy is unique in post World War II era politics. All Americans are better off, and our society is more just, because of his prodigious leadership efforts.

We at AJ Congress worked with Senator Kennedy and his staff closely on civil rights and religious liberty matters, including, particularly, the Voting Rights Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

Without question Senator Kennedy was a proud and far-sighted liberal. Yet on issue after issue he managed bi-partisan compromises that even at times when naked partisanship otherwise prevailed.

That, too, is a testament to his matchless contribution to our nation. In 1980, AJ Congress honored Senator Kennedy with its prestigious Stephen S. Wise Award. That award was evidently premature, for as much as Senator Kennedy had accomplished by 1980, was a mere prelude to what happened after.

We hope that his family and many friends and admirers find comfort in his record of service to the nation. The American Jewish Congress is a membership association of Jewish Americans, organized to defend Jewish interests at home and abroad, through public policy advocacy, in the courts, Congress, the executive branch and state and local governments. 

It also works overseas with others who are similarly engaged.



 

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