August 26, 2009
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On the Passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy
WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers mourns the passing of one of our own, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who was sometimes nicknamed “the senator from AFT.” He earned that playful moniker by virtue of our substantive and long-lasting partnership. Several years ago, we made it official by bestowing upon him an honorary lifetime membership in the AFT.
Ted Kennedy was an incomparably passionate, persuasive and persistent advocate. The causes he championed were some of the most urgent of our time—extending healthcare to those who lacked access, raising the minimum wage to lift hard-working people out of poverty, and pursuing the promise of public education and the labor movement as America’s great equalizers.
Ted Kennedy was a man of gravitas and great accomplishments, yet he wore himself lightly. He was the standard-bearer for progressive policies, yet forged close alliances with opponents to ensure that the right thing became a reality. He built coalitions, and he saw the humanity in all people.
Sen. Kennedy will always be a part of the AFT family. And we will honor his memory by continuing his life’s work—his passion for social justice, his special concern for the most vulnerable among us, and his belief that government can and should be a force for good. There is so much left to be done, but we will pursue our shared goals with the commitment and courage that Sen. Kennedy brought to every cause he championed.
We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and to all those who worked so closely with him. They are in our thoughts and prayers.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.