I’ve often read about the Kennedy family mystic. There was nothing mystical about Ted Kennedy. He was one of us. He fought for African Americans, women and everyone in between. He helped to pass more race based and women legislation than anyone else in the last 40 years. He championed causes of justice. He fought for justice for all.
I met Senator Kennedy at American University in 2008 when he and other members of his family endorsed Barack Obama for the presidency. It was a moment of historic proportions. Senator Kennedy was eloquent and moving in his endorsement for President Obama, the first African American president.
I will remember him for all the ways he supported women and African Americans. He introduced the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 allowing African Americans to be served in establishments open to the public. African Americans no longer had to go through the back door or no door of restaurants, stores, hotels and other public facilities. The bill forbid discrimination on account of race in employment and education.
He later helped to pass Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1972 which prevented discrimination against women in higher education. This bill paved the way for women such as myself to attend Ivy League universities.
Senator Kennedy voted against a bill that would have ended funding for female owned businesses.
In 2009 we saw the passing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act which helped to restore equal pay rights due to discrimination. Senator Kennedy was instrumental in the passing of this Act.
He co-sponsored legislation to create a Smithsonian Museum dedicated to African Americans.
He sponsored the Women, Infants and Children’s Nutrition program ( “WIC”).
He helped pass legislation providing funds for Native American women to fight breast and cervical cancer.
These are just a few highlights of his contributions to women and African Americans. Senator Kennedy fought for a just society. He truly believed in justice for all. Ted Kennedy was one of us.