Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid gave the following statement on the floor of the United States Senate today on the passing of Congressman Edward R. Roybal.
Remarks as prepared:
Mr. President, I was honored and privileged to call Congressman Ed Roybal a friend. He died Monday, and he will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. These are sad days for everyone who knew him.
I will remember Ed as a quiet man with an unwavering commitment to justice and compassion. He worked tirelessly over the past four decades on behalf of the poor, the elderly and the disenfranchised.
On personal level, I will never forget the support Ed gave my family when Landra, my wife, was sick and in a California hospital. Ed was always there for us. He’d even drive me from the airport in Los Angeles to the hospital where my wife was staying.
That was the kind of man Ed was. And not just for his friends. He was always there for the people of California, fighting to increase educational, political and economic opportunities.
As an advocate for Hispanics, Ed was a pioneer and relentless leader. When he was young, Ed created an organization called Community Service Organization. This group began a crusade against discrimination in housing, employment and education. It also conducted voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives within the Latino community.
In 1963, Ed was elected to Congress – the first Hispanic from California to serve since 1879. When he came to Washington, Ed was just one of a few people fighting for the progress of Latinos. There was no Congressional Hispanic Caucus when he arrived, so he founded it. Later, in 1976, he helped create the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
Getting more Hispanics involved in the political process was a passion of Ed’s, and he was a mentor to many Latinos. As part of this effort, he co-founded the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. To this day, this organization is bringing a new generation of talented Latinos into the political system and supporting them as they follow in Ed’s footsteps.
Mr. President, I wish everyone in government could have known Ed. He was a shining example for all of us. Selfless, compassionate and committed to equality, Ed lent his voice and his life to making the American Dream a reality for everyone.
I know how proud Ed was that his daughter, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, has taken up this cause. Ed’s legacy lives on in her work, but the burden does not fall only on her. There is work for all of us to do.
When Ed died, opportunity lost one of its greatest champions. It’s up to all of us to pick up in his absence and continue the work of opening doors and building an America that works for everyone.