Harvard Honors Sen. Kennedy With Doctorate

This article is more than 12 years old.

More than 50 years after he graduated from Harvard University, Sen. Edward Kennedy's alma mater has awarded him an honorary doctorate.

The 76-year-old was to have received the degree at Harvard's commencement last spring, but he couldn't attend after surgery for a malignant brain tumor.

Monday night's special convocation, marking Kennedy's decades of public service, was attended by many of his family, friends and congressional colleagues — among them, Sen. John Kerry and Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

WBUR's Meghna Chakrabarti reports.

Sen. Edward Kennedy walked on stage with the help of a cane. But when it came time to approach the podium, he left the cane behind, proving the liberal lion of the Senate can still roar.

KENNEDY: I remember what my brother said about liberalism, shortly before he was elected president. He said, If by a liberal, they mean someone who looks ahead, and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people, their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, their civil liberties, someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicion that grips us — if that is what they mean by a liberal, I am proud to be a liberal.

Housing, education, the minimum wage and civil rights legislation are included among Kennedy's hard fought political victories. But Kennedy said his almost five decades in the Senate have also come with hard won lessons.

This program aired on December 2, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.