Washington Report - Page 3 of 5

Washington Report

Former Senator Awarded Congessional Gold Medal


When trailblazing politician former Sen. Edward W. Brooke III received the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday he happily accepted the accolades from the president and other lawmakers. But the Republican from Massachusetts also took the time to scold both Republicans and Democrats for their bipartisan bickering.

“We’ve got to get together,” Brooke said, casting his gaze on Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “We have no alternative. There’s nothing left. It’s time for politics to be put aside on the back burner.”

Brooke, 90, served in the U.S. Senate from 1967 to 1979 and was the first African American to be elected by popular vote to the Senate. He was first elected to statewide office as Massachusetts attorney general in 1962, on the same night that the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) first won his Senate seat, prompting President John F. Kennedy to say, “That’s the biggest news in the country,” recalled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at the ceremony to honor Brooke.

President Barack Obama, who attended the ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, noted in his remarks that Brooke had blazed a trail that he and others have followed.

“When he ran for statewide office in Massachusetts, and one reporter pointed out that he was black, Republican, and Protestant, seeking office in a white, Democratic, and Catholic state … Ed was unfazed,” Obama said.  “It was, to say the least, an improbable profile for the man who would become the first African American state attorney general, and the first popularly elected African American senator. ”

Senator Ted Kennedy and DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton jointly sponsored legislation to honor Brooke.

To view the Gold Medal ceremony, click here.