Former Speaker of the House Wright remembers Sen. Kennedy


    The death of Sen. Ted Kennedy prompted former Speaker of the House and current adjunct professor Jim Wright to remember their long-lived friendship.

    Wright said that while he invited Kennedy to the university several times, the senator always turned him down for various reasons.

    “There was always a sadness about him,” Wright said, “About his brother’s death here in Texas. When I asked if he would come speak at an event, he said, ‘Jim, I’m just not ready for that yet.'”The long-standing friendship between Wright and Kennedy began when they met in 1960 when John F. Kennedy was running for the democratic presidential nomination.

    “We’ve had a long,long friendship over the years, usually on the same side,” Wright said. “I would visit him in Massachusetts and he would come down to Texas, but not often.”

    CNN’s Web site reported that Ted Kennedy died of brain cancer Tuesday night at his home in Hyannis Port, Mass. The 77-year-old senator had been fighting cancer since May 2008 when he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. He made his last public appearance one year ago, only a few weeks after treatment for the cancer, according to the Web site.

    Sen. Kennedy, brother of former President John F. Kennedy, had been an increasingly influential political figure for nearly half a century, Wright said. Kennedy was near the top when compared with other political officials, he said.

    “Ted Kennedy has fought long and hard, perhaps longer and harder than anyone else in the public arena … His happy sense of humor and strong convictions have blended in his distinctive personality.” Wright said.

    According to the ABC News Web site, Kennedy, nicknamed the “liberal lion of the Senate,” played a large part in the passing of important legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act in, which requires that states give basic skills assessments to all students in certain grades if they wish to receive federal funding, and the 2006 Family Opportunity Act that allowed states to expand Medicaid coverage to children with special needs.

    Wright expressed that Kennedy had a great impact on society during his lengthy political career, but that his passing will not affect the political arena other than the loss of his services.

    “He made several marvelous contributions to the availability of medical care and education.” Wright said. “Because of his service, people everywhere in our land can enjoy richer and fuller lives.”