Tribute to a Titan of Public Service

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy carried the torch of social justice for all Americans

Kennedy stood for troops serving our nation in other countries and for improving the quality of life of Americans at home. Kennedy consistently voted against Supreme Court nominees who he saw as hostile toward civil rights, and was a leading voice for human rights, social justice and democracy throughout the world. In 2006, he earned deserved recognition from Time magazine as one of “America’s 10 Best Senators.” Edward Kennedy can also claim the election of America’s first black president, Barack Obama, as part of his vast political legacy.

While the Kennedy political dynasty may have come to an end with Edward Kennedy’s death, the Kennedys’ legacy of public service — the “family business” according to his niece and brother Robert’s oldest child Kathleen Kennedy Townsend — is as strong as ever. Townsend, who as a former lieutenant governor of Maryland created statewide character education and student service programs, established the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award and is now the chair of the Institute of Human Virology, which treats AIDS. Her sister Kerry, who I spoke to shortly after their uncle’s passing, is an international human rights activist. Their brother Joe II is founder and chairman of Citizens Energy, which makes heating oil affordable for the poor. Edward Kennedy’s son Patrick is a Rhode Island congressman who advocates on mental health issues. Their cousin Caroline, the daughter of John F. Kennedy, is the author of books on civil liberties and has raised money for New York City schools. Despite their patriarch’s death, the Kennedy family business lives on, as does the legacy of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, whose work will positively impact the lives of millions of Americans for generations to come.

Earl G. Graves, Sr. is the founder and publisher of Black Enterprise magazine.

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  • http://www.blackindependent.com Stephen Frazier

    I respected Sen Kennedy as a longtime publioc servant, but honestly, the only people that he truly helped were those who for the most part were too lazy to take care of themselves.

    For sure, his hand was on much if not most of the liberal driven legislation over half a century, and we have the deficits and the debt to prove it.

    I grew up believing that people like him were all that stood between me and destitution, only to realize VERY late in life that government has all along been what stood between me and PROSPERITY.

    With the help of Ted Kennedy and others like him, I have been working to help pay the bills of those who refuse to work hard like I was. I have no quarrel with government helping those who are unable to help themselves, but the government that Kennedy fostered was one that gave help to everyone who asked, whether they could help themselves or not.

    I do admire Kennedy for standing for what he truly believed in all those years. I just wish he had stayed out of my wallet.

    P.S. Of all the accolades B.E. is giving Ted, I am having a hard time finding the part where he did all that much for MINORITY ENTERPRISE.