Monday, January 03, 2005

Two fewer liberals

Shirley Chisholm, a minority rights advocate who was the first black woman elected to Congress in 1968 and later the first black person to run for president in 1972, joins Representative Robert Matusi as liberal minority democrats who passed away in 2005.

Chisholm represented New York's Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, the area that inspired RFK to work towards social justice and become a champion of the African-American cause. Matsui was born in a Japanese internment camp and represented Sacramento for decades. In 1988, he helped shepherd the Japanese-American Redress Act through Congress, in which the government formally apologized for the World War II internment program and offered token compensation to victims. Matsui was also head of the DCCC in this year's ill-fated attempt to regain power in the US House of Representatives (where Democrats have been out of power for a decade now). Matsui had been battling Milo Dysplastic Disorder, a rare disorder that causes an inability of the bone marrow to produce blood products, such as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

During her failed presidential bid, Chisholm went to the hospital to visit George Wallace, her rival candidate and ideological opposite, after he had been shot,— an act that appalled her followers.

"He said, `What are your people going to say?' I said: `I know what they're going to say. But I wouldn't want what happened to you to happen to anyone.' He cried and cried," she recalled.

That shows a person's character. These two people were all that was right with being liberal: they had beliefs and values which they stood up for, even if they knew they were unpopular, even with their own constituents/constituencies.

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