Sen. Ted Kennedy, Civil Rights Titan, Dead At 77

Edward Kennedy shown at the funeral services of civil rights activist Roy Wilkins, Sept. 1981. AP hide caption

Interactive Timeline: Photos From Kennedy's Life
itoggle caption AP

The political world is mourning the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy. The eight-term Democratic senator from Massachusetts and brother of the late President John F. Kennedy, Jr., died Tuesday night after a year-long battle with brain cancer. During his time in Washington, Kennedy was a leader in the battle for civil rights, a cause he championed throughout his career.

Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree discusses Kennedy's legislative records, and reflects on what he will miss most about the late senator.

Remarks By The President On The Passing Of Senator Edward M. Kennedy

The White House

President Obama and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy i i

Former Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's 2008 White House bid was significantly boosted with the endorsement of fellow Democrat and political ally Sen. Edward Kennedy. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Win McNamee/Getty Images
President Obama and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy

Former Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's 2008 White House bid was significantly boosted with the endorsement of fellow Democrat and political ally Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

I wanted to say a few words this morning about the passing of an extraordinary leader, Senator Edward Kennedy.

Over the past several years, I've had the honor to call Teddy a colleague, a counselor, and a friend. And even though we have known this day was coming for some time now, we awaited it with no small amount of dread.

Since Teddy's diagnosis last year, we've seen the courage with which he battled his illness. And while these months have no doubt been difficult for him, they've also let him hear from people in every corner of our nation and from around the world just how much he meant to all of us. His fight has given us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you — and goodbye.

The outpouring of love, gratitude, and fond memories to which we've all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives. His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives — in seniors who know new dignity, in families that know new opportunity, in children who know education's promise, and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just — including myself.

The Kennedy name is synonymous with the Democratic Party. And at times, Ted was the target of partisan campaign attacks. But in the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle. His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth, and good cheer. He could passionately battle others and do so peerlessly on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintain warm friendships across party lines.

And that's one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.

His extraordinary life on this earth has come to an end. And the extraordinary good that he did lives on. For his family, he was a guardian. For America, he was the defender of a dream.

I spoke earlier this morning to Senator Kennedy's beloved wife, Vicki, who was to the end such a wonderful source of encouragement and strength. Our thoughts and prayers are with her, his children Kara, Edward, and Patrick; his stepchildren Curran and Caroline; the entire Kennedy family; decades' worth of his staff; the people of Massachusetts; and all Americans who, like us, loved Ted Kennedy.

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