Boyce Watkins has an interesting obit for Senator Ted Kennedy that I think is worth reading. He talks about the good the man did and isn’t that how we would all like to be remembered?

From TheGrio:

As a member of the Senate since 1962, Senator Kennedy had a long career fighting for those forced to live in the underbelly of a capitalist society. Over the last 47 years, he has done it better than nearly any politician in American history. African-Americans were among the many beneficiaries of his passionate life’s work, and for that, we will always be appreciative.

In a multitude of areas including housing, income, civil liberties, and equality, Ted Kennedy has been on the front lines. His brother John introduced the Civil Rights Act of 1964, considered to be one of the most impactful pieces of legislation ever produced by our government. After John’s death, Ted and his brother Robert were instrumental in seeing that the bill was passed.

Senator Ted Kennedy then went on to help pass one law after another to support the rights of the elderly, the sick, the poor and the incarcerated. He introduced the Americans with Disabilities Act, The Civil Rights Act of 1991, The Civil Rights for Institutionalized Persons Act, among others. He also helped to amend the Fair Housing Act, and has fought relentlessly for those who’ve never known the comfort of attending an Ivy League University.

In 2002, Kennedy was one of 23 senators who voted (correctly as we can all see now) against the war in Iraq and was an outspoken critic. He was also a tireless advocate for the bulk of his Senate career on healthcare reform going back over 40 years.

Ted Kennedy is quoted as saying: “Individuals can make a difference. Everyone should try.” Word. Having met a couple of Kennedys (it’s hard to avoid in DC), I can say with honesty that the family truly has at its core a moral, almost religious commitment to serving the public’s needs and working to better the lives of others and America as a whole. They really do believe that shizz.

Yet, Ted Kennedy was not a perfect man — all men’s feet are made of clay.

In spite of his personal tragedies, Senator Kennedy was not a man without privilege. After being kicked out of Harvard for cheating on an exam, he was allowed back into school two years later. Additionally, there are persistent rumors regarding the ability of Kennedy family members to avoid paying social and legal costs for serious mistakes. While one might be tempted to say that it would be great to be a Kennedy, the truth is that this family is an almost mythical manifestation of wealth, power and privilege as well as cross-generational trauma.

There was that whole Chappaquidick, um, incident where from the looks of it, Kennedy had a terrible accident after drinking and driving whereby his car ended up in a channel of water with a woman drowned in it who wasn’t his wife. He survived, but failed to call the authorities for help. A nation collectively said to itself: “WTF?” Or so I’m told: I wasn’t alive then. It was bad, bad judgment on so many different levels, to be sure, and probably doomed any presidential aspirations he might have had permanently. Certainly he and other Kennedys were able to get away with some things that most Americans and certainly no African-American would ever skirt. Today’s contemporary might be John Edwards, whose affair undercut his piercing advocacy for America’s working class and poor.

Still I’d like to look at his life as someone who struggled publicly and mostly succeeded in conquering his demons, leading a family, redeeming his legacy, helping those most in need of help and inspiring a nation in the process. Kennedy’s proves that you can be imperfect and yet still make massive contributions to better the lives of millions.

Chris Mathews (who normally irritates me) remarked on Kennedy’s passing the torch of his family during the 2008 Democratic National Committee. It was an historic moment and Mathews said: “Barack is now the last brother” of the Kennedy clan. I think there’s some truth to that. Kennedy was a brother to African-Americans and we are fortunate to benefit from a life that teaches us all. He truly lived up to the words: “Individuals can make a difference. Everyone should try.”

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