Senator Edward Kennedy was considered the Lion of the United States Senate. He was also a Lion for civil rights, fighting for justice and equality. Passion, patience and perseverance all describe Senator Kennedy’s approach to legislation. He worked across the political ideological aisle for the furtherance of civil and human rights. His political perspective was never shaded with shadows of personal benefit.
Throughout his career, Senator Kennedy continued to champion civil rights issues, such as, voting, education, housing, and disability rights. During his almost five decades in the United States Senate, he seized many opportunities to highlight and forward the cause of civil rights. This article will discuss Senator Kennedy’s devotion to the democratic process and will particularly emphasize his role in the initial passage and subsequent reauthorizations of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). Part I discusses the importance of the Voting Rights Act and Senator Kennedy’s monumental contributions to the passage and reauthorizations of the Act. Part II describes contemporary challenges to the Voting Rights Act and new mechanisms that disenfranchise minority voters. Part III provides direction on ways to conquer present day challenges and to continue the legacy of Senator Edward Kennedy.
Senator Edward Kennedy: A Lion for Voting Rights, 14 N.Y.U. J. Legis. & Pub. Pol'y 237 (2011)