R.I.P. Lindy Boggs

Lindy Boggs, the first Congresswoman elected from Louisiana, the first woman to serve as an ambassador to the Vatican, and a key player in outlawing gender discrimination in credit lending, has died at age 97:

The velvet Southern charm she had absorbed growing up on two Louisiana plantations was her not-so-secret weapon.

She displayed it early in her first term when the House banking committee was composing an amendment to a lending bill banning discrimination on the basis of race, age or veteran status. She added the words “sex or marital status,” ran to a copying machine and made a copy for each member.

In her memoir she recalled saying: “Knowing the members composing this committee as well as I do, I’m sure it was just an oversight that we didn’t have ‘sex’ or ‘marital status’ included. I’ve taken care of that, and I trust it meets with the committee’s approval.”

Thus was sex discrimination prohibited by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974.

She was also, according to the New York Times, noted for her support of civil rights, a position far from universal among white Southern Democrats:

Mrs. Boggs championed racial justice at a time when doing so invited the resentment if not hostility of most Southern whites. She saw the growing civil rights movement as necessary to the political reform movement of the 1940s and ’50s....While her husband was in office, she supported civil rights legislation as well as Head Start and antipoverty programs. As the president of two organizations of Congressional wives, she saw to it that each group was racially integrated.

Boggs was also an opponent of choice, a stance which deserved to be remembered alongside the positives in her social justice record.

You can read further obituaries at the Washington Post and NPR.

[Note: If there are further, less flattering things to be said about Ms. Boggs, they have been excluded only because I am unaware of them, not because they are unimportant or in an attempt to whitewash them. Please feel free to discuss all aspects of her life and work in comments. This does not include holding Ms. Boggs responsible for the actions of others, including members of her family.]

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