A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

Mourning the loss of a champion of democracy and civil rights
By Natalie Goode

It was his roaring voice that got the members of the Senate to listen. It was his devotion to service and justice that pulled at everyone’s heart strings. Senator Edward “Teddy” Kennedy, youngest of nine siblings, was raised with the ideal that to whom much is given, much is expected. And he became an instrument of that principle by producing legislation about health care, education, civil rights and voting rights in the U.S. Senate. But, he was known for far more than his domestic work; his commitment to human rights was beyond borders.


In 1985, Kennedy visited South Africa to witness firsthand how South Africans were impacted by Apartheid rule. “Kennedy was among leaders who championed the opposition against the apartheid regime in South Africa,” the African National Congress said in a statement on Kennedy’s death. “He is remembered for having staged an illegal protest outside Pollsmoor Prison, where struggle icon Nelson Mandela was held.” ANC added. That same year, Kennedy introduced the Anti-Apartheid Act to order economic sanctions against South Africa’s lawful racial discrimination. The Act won bipartisan support and was enacted into law. After Mandela was released he told reporters that he knew Kennedy was outside the prison and it gave him and the other prisoners “a lot of strength and hope, and the feeling that we had millions behind us.” Nelson Mandela Foundation chief executive Achmat Dangor said that Mandela was saddened to hear of Kennedy’s death. “We mourn, with his family, and the United States of America, the loss of a champion of democracy and civil rights.” Dangor said in a statement.

Kennedy, 77, died of a brain tumor on August 26th. He is survived by his wife, Vicki; his two sons, Edward Kennedy Jr. and Patrick J. Kennedy, a daughter, Kara Kennedy Allen; two stepchildren, Curran Raclin and Caroline Raclin; and four grandchildren, and sister, Jean Kennedy Smith.