Remarks by Senator Edward M. Kennedy

I'm honored to be here today with Hilda Solis, the California State Senator and nominee for Congress who is the winner of this year's Profile in Courage Award.

Our goal in these annual Profile in Courage Awards is to pay tribute to the political courage of contemporary elected officials, at whatever level of government they serve -- federal, state, or local. By doing so, we hope to encourage the American people to value the quality of political courage more highly in their representatives.

Elected officials and private citizens are constantly under enormous pressure from powerful forces in our society to get along by going along - to support the status quo -- and avoid the risk of seeking needed change.

As a young Senator in the 1950's, President Kennedy won the Pulitzer Prize for his book about elected officials in American history who defied that pressure and demonstrated an unusually high degree of political courage. What he meant are political leaders who act on principle, who are willing to risk their career and challenge powerful entrenched interests, in order to do what they believe is right.

As Andrew Jackson once said, "One man with courage makes a majority." And as Hilda Solis has proved, one woman with courage makes a majority too.

The extraordinary success of Hilda Solis in the California legislature shows the power of one person with vision, ability, dedication, and courage to overcome even the strongest forces of oppression and resistance.

Her achievements are outstanding on cutting-edge contemporary issues such as environmental justice, worker's rights, minority rights, and women's rights. In so many ways, Hilda Solis has turned out to be the irresistible force that makes the immovable object move.

Hilda Solis eminently deserves this Profile in Courage Award. President Kennedy would be proud of her -- and so will the House of Representatives when she arrives in Congress next January.

Remarks delivered by Senator Edward M. Kennedy on presenting the 2000 Profile in Courage Award, MAY 22, 2000