Sunday, August 30, 2009

Homeless in Washington Sign Book in Kennedy’s Memory

Late Senator Championed Eradication of Homelessness

Dorothy Rowley

AFRO Staff Writer

Rocky Twyman coordinated the Washington, DC, soup kitchen tribute to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. From left: Lord Waters, Twyman, and Marcia Foster. (Photo by Dorothy Rowley)

(August 29, 2009) - The passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy, who was laid to rest this weekend at Arlington National Cemetery, has left a void in the lives of many in the country’s minority communities.

Among them were roughly 50 people who gathered Thursday during lunch hour District of Columbia soup kitchen where they paid homage to Kennedy, remembering his efforts to help the homeless by signing a makeshift notebook in memory of the iconic Democrat who died on Tuesday.

The book signing took place at First Seventh Day Adventist Church in northwest Washington. It was coordinated by Rocky Twyman, 60, of Rockville, Md., who said Kennedy’s unwavering efforts to end homelessness were unmatched.

“He did so much to help the poorest of the poor. He was a champion of their rights,” said Twyman. “I always admired Sen. Kennedy because he did so much for the cause of Black folks. He really supported us. ”

Tywman added that Kennedy was “a hero for Black people,” and that had it not been for his support, “Obama would not be in the White House.”

Kennedy once told the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless in a speech that a slate of issues contributed to poverty and, ultimately, homelessness.

“Each homeless person has their own story, with unique circumstances, but together, they teach us the same lesson,” Kennedy said. “We must deal more effectively with the problems that contribute to homelessness, such as drug abuse, poverty, domestic violence, mental illness and the lack of basic skills and adequate education.”

District resident Randolph Squire, 58, who frequents the soup kitchen, said Kennedy was simply a good man.

“He went out of his way to help the homeless,” Squire said. “No one can ever say that he didn’t fight for us.”

Tywman said Kennedy’s demise will have a significant impact on the soup kitchen because most of its clients are without health insurance. He said that with Kennedy’s passing, Obama now faces an uphill battle on health care reform.

“Kennedy was the one legislator who could shepherd those bills through Congress and now it will be very difficult for Obama without him,” Twyman said.