Local disability rights advocates are planning a memorial event in San Francisco tonight to pay tribute to Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who died Tuesday night at age 77.
The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund had already been planning to honor Kennedy at its 30th anniversary celebration tonight for his work in fighting for disability rights.
Kennedy’s son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, was scheduled to speak but instead will be with his family on the East Coast, said Julia Epstein, spokeswoman for the organization.
Kennedy was a longtime advocate of disability rights, and introduced the Americans with Disabilities Act, which became law in 1990.
The act prohibited discrimination against any qualified individual with a disability in job application procedures, hirings and discharges, compensation, advancement or training.
The law also declared that no qualified individual with a disability could be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination by a public entity.
Tonight’s event will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel at 757 Market St., and will include a photo slideshow, a video, and memorabilia sent to the group by President Obama, President George H.W. Bush, and other prominent advocates of disability rights.
Local and state political figures and disability rights advocates are expected to attend, Epstein said. Tickets for the general public will be available, and will cost between $30 and $200.
Politicians on the local, state and national level reacted to news of Kennedy’s death today.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom called him “the greatest senator of my time. Senator Kennedy was never discouraged, even when those denouncing the ability of government to do anything were in control.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein released a statement saying her heart goes out to his wife Vicki and the rest of the Kennedy family.
“He was a colleague, an inspiration and a friend,” Feinstein said. “Ted Kennedy dedicated his life to ensuring that America would be a better place. A better place for the poor, for children, for seniors – a better place for all Americans.”