Tuesday, December 29, 2009

True Compass

Over Christmas break, I have been reading True Compass: A Memoir by Ted Kennedy. I am not a reader of biographies, but after Kennedy passed away, I watched a few of the shows that were dedicated to the life of him and his brothers. I was intrigued. After waiting patiently for my turn to check out the library book, I got it just in time to read it over the break.
It is FANTASTIC. I've always heard about the tragedy that surrounded the Kennedy family, but to read Ted's feelings during it all made me feel like I was there. A family of 9 children - 2 died in plane crashes, 2 were assassinated, one was mentally challenged and doctors convinced the Kennedy's a lobotomy would help her - leaving only 4 to properly grow old together.
Ted's stories about campaigning for his brother Jack for the 1960 presidential election were great. My favorite was Ted going to a rodeo and convincing the crowd to vote for his brother by staying on a bareback bucking horse for 6 seconds. Reading about the assassination of Jack made me cry. Lyndon Johnson's efforts to pass the Civil Rights Act for which Jack had laid the foundation was amazing to read about, almost made me feel like I was there. It amazes me that it was only passed in 1964 and changed the US so much that we are now living in a different country. A better country. There were so many other bills passed that were part of the Civil Rights Act that I didn't even realize were necessary. States used to be able to charge a poll tax, making people pay to cast a vote, preventing the poor (and often minorities) from bothering to voice their opinion on who they wanted to represent them. Ted spearheaded the passing of that law, preventing states from making people pay to vote. The stories of Ted and Bobby working together in the senate, representing Massachusetts and New York, respectively, were wonderful stories that showed how much fun the two of them had while expressing their LOVE of their country. When Bobby decided to run for president, two major parts of his campaign were ending the war in Vietnam and Civil Rights. Bobby was in Indianapolis the night that Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated. He was speaking to a group of minorities and his advisors told him to not announce the Dr. King had been murdered. Bobby did not agree and told the group the horrendous news. He then championed them to rise above violence and bring about civil rights through peace. Riots broke out all over the country that night, but not Indianapolis. Bobby's assassination two months later really tore Ted apart, making him retreat into his work.
Following the Civil Rights battles of the 1960's, Ted's major cause was healthcare. It is a shame that he is not still alive to see the efforts being made to pass healthcare reform, but he knew that Obama was going to make every effort possible to make it happen.
I loved this book. I recommend.

2 comments:

Beth said...

We watched Bobby's speech from the night after Dr. King's murder in my comm. class. It was very powerful- and amazing how he kept the crowd calm, with what had just happened.

Kraxpelax said...
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