MALDEF Mourns the Passing of a Champion of Civil Rights, Latinos, and All Americans, Senator Ted Kennedy

MALDEF offers its sympathies to the Kennedy family on the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Edward M. Kennedy
Senator Ted Kennedy accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award from MALDEF at the 2008 Washington DC Awards Gala

August 26, 2009

Los Angeles, CA - Today, Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel issued the following statement:

It is with great sadness that MALDEF mourns Senator Ted Kennedy’s passing. Throughout the years, he proved to be a champion of civil rights for all people and a lawmaker committed to the ideal that all people are created equal. He forthrightly acted upon his convictions by fearlessly advocating for people of color, women, immigrants, children and the poor.

In the 1960’s, Senator Kennedy worked tirelessly to defeat segregationist and anti-immigrant laws. Later, he utilized his visibility and power to confront South African apartheid, protect gay rights, and strengthen voting and labor laws. He was vocal about fighting discrimination in its many forms and was instrumental in ensuring the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, and the Kennedy-Hatch law of 1997. More recently, Senator Kennedy led the effort to broaden existing hate crimes law through the passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Passed by the Senate in 2009 and currently in conference with the House.). He also strongly believed that all immigrants should be afforded the same due process protections as citizens and was a long-time proponent of the need for comprehensive immigration reform, playing a major role in crafting immigration legislation to address such issues.

This nation has lost a great visionary and a brave ally in the struggle for equality and human rights. The MALDEF family takes solace in knowing that Senator Kennedy’s efforts to effect change remain dynamic and far-reaching in the many laws he authored and shepherded through Congress in the course of his career.

Senator Kennedy will be truly missed. The MALDEF staff wishes to extend our deepest sympathies to Senator Kennedy’s family, friends and colleagues.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund