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Norton: Kennedy was a Friend to D.C.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said District residents have lost one of their main champions in the U.S. Senate with the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy, whether it was advocating for D.C. statehood or signing laws to improve the lives of District youth.

Norton said Kennedy would have likely prevented the pro-gun lobby from stalling the D.C. Voting Rights bill earlier this year, if he'd been able to be involved.

"This District may not have a Senator, but it had Ted Kennedy," said Norton, who took time from her vacation in Martha's Vineyard to reflect on the Kennedy's legacy in terms of the District's struggle for self determination. "He was a deal maker. When you had a really tough issue like the NRA amendment that was when Teddy Kennedy was needed most."

In addition to being a tough advocate, Norton said Kennedy was a great compromiser. She said a prime example was when his work with Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah) to pass the Serve America Act that was signed into law by President Obama at the Seed School in Southeast Washington in April.

"Ted Kennedy had a unique ability to make a deal but he never forsook his principles on the left," Norton said. "The bill epitomized Kennedy as a deal maker because here you had one of the most liberal members of the Senate and one of the most conservative members working together on a service bill."

Obama renamed the bill the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, turning the gym of the school into a venue where Vice President Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, members of Congress, former President Clinton, former First Lady Rosalyn Carter, and other luminaries like former Secretary of State Colin Powell could honor Kennedy.

"This is a wonderful day," boomed Kennedy during the April 26 event at the school at Burns and C streets SE -- at one time considered a perilous area. In 1992, a 5-year-old was killed there in a shooting that targeted somebody else. The Post's Hamil Harris shot some video of that event.

President Obama cited the school as a success story as he signed a $5.7 billion bill that tripled the size of the AmeriCorps service program from 75,000 positions to 225,000 over eight years.

"The District has lost an irreplaceable partner," Norton said of Kennedy. "He will be missed by people across the nation, but the people in the District of Columbia will miss him most because we have no one."

By Anne Bartlett  |  August 27, 2009; 3:31 PM ET
Categories:  Hamil R. Harris  
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Comments

Edward Kennedy was great man, everytime I think about him passing, it brings tears to me, he was for all the people, and people that did not have a voice. The Kennedy's understood the struggles of black people, man what a sad day. We really have no one in the Senate that understand the struggles of the working man and woman. Fox News stop talking about his drinking problems, Fox Network is trashy network, with a bunch of hooker newscasters, leave Kennedy personal life out.

Posted by: nativeva1 | August 27, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse

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