Edward M. Kennedy: Civil Rights Champion

The Massachusetts senator died Tuesday at the age of 77, leaving behind a moral legacy in the fight for civil rights.


Sen. Edward Kennedy's skills were never more successful and constant than in the area of civil rights: for minorities, for women, for the disabled and for immigrants.

Over nearly five decades, the Massachusetts Democrat, who died Tuesday at age 77, assumed an increasingly important role in framing the nation's civil rights laws and in leading the opposition to Supreme Court nominees he viewed as hostile to civil rights.

Perhaps it was the NINA — No Irish Need Apply — signs his grandfather told him about in Boston. Perhaps it was the moral legacy left unfinished by his assassinated brothers. Whatever the reason, Kennedy long identified with those who are left out and left behind. Over the course of almost a half-century in the Senate, Kennedy would lead the fight for enactment of a truly astonishing list of civil rights laws.


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