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Former Louisiana Congresswoman Lindy Boggs Dies At 97

Former Democratic Rep. Lindy Claiborne Boggs attends the Distinguished Service Award ceremony at the Capitol in May 2006 in Washington, D.C. i i

Former Democratic Rep. Lindy Claiborne Boggs attends the Distinguished Service Award ceremony at the Capitol in May 2006 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Former Democratic Rep. Lindy Claiborne Boggs attends the Distinguished Service Award ceremony at the Capitol in May 2006 in Washington, D.C.

Former Democratic Rep. Lindy Claiborne Boggs attends the Distinguished Service Award ceremony at the Capitol in May 2006 in Washington, D.C.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former Rep. Lindy Boggs, the first woman elected to Congress from Louisiana and an ardent civil rights campaigner, has died at age 97.

Boggs went to Congress after a special election to succeed her late husband, Thomas Hale Boggs, Sr., who had died in a plane crash in Alaska. She served in the House for nearly two decades.

She died of natural causes at her home in Chevy Chase, Md., according to her daughter, NPR senior news analyst and ABC News journalist Cokie Roberts.

Roberts called her mother "a trailblazer for women and the disadvantaged."

When Boggs announced her retirement in 1990, she was the only white person representing a black-majority district in Congress, The Associated Press says.

"I am proud to have played a small role in opening doors for blacks and women," she said at the time.

The AP writes:

"Breaking with most Southern whites, Lindy Boggs saw civil rights as an inseparable part of the political reform movement of the 1940s and '50s.

'You couldn't want to reverse the injustices of the political system and not include the blacks and the poor. It was just obvious,' she said in 1990.

She worked for the Civil Rights Acts of 1965 and 1968, Head Start and other programs to help minorities, the poor and women."

In 1997, Boggs was tapped by President Clinton to serve as ambassador to the Vatican, a role she filled for three years.

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