Remembering Lindy Boggs, Trailblazing Louisiana Congresswoman

Congresswoman Boggs might not have entered political life as a Congresswoman, but she was born to become one.

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© Reuters Photographer / Reuters

Vice President Gore swears in Lindy Boggs as Ambassador to the Vatican on November 12, 1997.

Congresswoman Boggs might not have entered political life as a Congresswoman, but she was born to become one.

While the beginning of her first term was marked by tragedy, her years of service were defined by action. Congresswoman Boggs forged her own way in the House, as a trailblazer whose Southern charm helped her relentless pursuit of justice. During her long life in public service, Congresswoman Boggs advocated for equality for all, especially minorities and women.

We worked together in the House of Representatives, and continued to fight as a team after she left office. We tackled everything from the Equal Rights Amendment, to ending discrimination against women seeking access to credit. We championed affordable housing and pushed for social security reforms.

She also served on the Appropriations Committee. She dearly loved her earmarks, using them in a strategic way to help the people at home, focusing on education and empowerment. She fought for people’s everyday needs, from day care centers to literacy programs and shelters for battered women.

For years after her final term, Congresswoman Boggs would ring me up to say, “Barbara darlin’, I have a little request that can go a long way.” Even after she left the House, it was clear she never left the people of New Orleans.

But she cared deeply about all people, not just those in her district. Together we walked down Bourbon Street in New Orleans with children who needed hope and opportunity. And together we walked in the refugee camps of Thailand, among children who hoped for the same decency and kindness as their peers half a world away.

Faced with a challenge, Congresswoman Boggs was compassion in action – not just in what she did, but in the way she did it. At the end of each meeting, she insisted on a practical plan of action. She brought humanity and grace to the legislative process, and never forgot the lives behind the lawbooks.

Congresswoman Boggs showed by practicing civility and encouraging mutual respect, you could get a lot done. She was a unique force, and I am saddened by the loss of this very special woman. She will be sorely missed by many, but her light shines on – not only in the lives she touched, but the legacy she left behind.

Barbara Mikulski is a Democratic Senator for Maryland.