Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54-56 (D-Mass.) Yesterday kicked off the Institute of Politics' 25th Anniversity Celebration with a speech discussing politics, civil rights and his personal life.
The Massachusetts senator opened his speech, before an audience of 700, with reference to the recent confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.
Kennedy, a member of the Senate's Judiciary Committee, defended his position against the confirmation of Thomas by saying that "the charges of Anita Hill had to be taken seriously."
Kennedy also offered his view of a future society "where sex discrimination is ended [and] the majority of women truly and finally are equal citizens."
In the speech, Kennedy denounced "those who misuse race as a political weapon." Prior to Thomas's confirmation, some speculation centered on whether he was nominated because he is Black.
"Our country will fail if we do not we do not bring down the barriers of race and sex and prejudice," Kennedy said.
"This is a battle we must keep on waging and a battle I will not walk away from," Kennedy added.
Kennedy also touched on other national issues, including tax cuts and gun control.
Saying that the American economy is still in recession, Kennedy called for lower tax rates for the middle class, funded by money saved through defense cuts.
The American education system needs immediate improvement "so America can have star schools and not just Star Wars," Kennedy said. He also predicted that the issue of national health insurance will be an important part of next year's presidential campaign.
At one point, Kennedy turned from the topic of politics to comment on his personal problems, some of which have been publicized in the news in recent weeks.
"I recognize my own shortcomings, the faults in the conduct of my private life," said Kennedy. "I am the one who must confront them."
Ronald H. Brown, national Democratic Party chair, closed the forum by praising Kennedy for being "a vanguard on the cutting edge for constructive change in America."