Senator Robert Byrd dead, 92
Washington, June 28, NPR - The passing of political giants
always makes one reflect about their legacies, and there's
lot to reflect about Sen. Robert Byrd, the longest serving
member of Congress in history.
The West Virginia Democrat died early Monday morning at 92.
He had been in the hospital for several days, but on Sunday
his office released a statement saying he was "seriously
Byrd was a character out of another era, a
Constitution-observing, fiddler-playing, Thoreau-quoting
student of the Senate. In his early life, he was a member of
the Ku Klux Klan — a decision he long regretted — along with
other stains on his record, such as this note he wrote in
1944, to racist Sen. Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi, about
the move to integrate the armed services:
I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my
side... Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old
Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see
this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels,
a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.
Twelve years into his service in Congress he voted against
the 1964 Civil Rights Act, holding the Senate hostage in a
long filibuster. It was a vote he later said he wishes he
could have taken back.......