In front of a standing room only crowd at the East Boston Social Centers, U.S. Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate taking on incumbent U.S. Sen. Ed Markey.
Kennedy’s choice of location was not by accident. The Kennedy family’s start in America is very much the same story as the hundreds of immigrants that call Eastie home.
Patrick Kennedy fled New Ross, Ireland and abject poverty for a better life in the U.S. and married Bridget Murphy at Holy Redeemer Church in the mid 1800s, just a few blocks from the Social Centers.
“It is so extremely meaningful to me to be able to do this, and announce this, here, where in 1848, a few steps from where this building is today, my father’s family first arrived in this country,” Kennedy began his speech Saturday. “Patrick Kennedy came, fleeing oppression, starvation, and he arrived here with literally nothing. He married a woman named Bridget Murphy. She ended up getting a store just down the road here over on Border Street. They built a family. Patrick passed away young, from cholera. And from sheer force of will, and the help of a community, she kept that family together.”
Patrick’s son, P.J. Kennedy went on to become a successful saloon owner, ward boss and politician in Eastie. His son, Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of President John F. Kennedy and Joseph P. Kennedy III’s grandfather, the late Robert Kennedy, started what would become a family dynasty in U.S. Politics that spanned several generations.
“Her son owned a local saloon, became a ward boss, and served in the state Senate,” said Kennedy. “His son, my great grandfather, was born a few blocks from here on Meridian Street. His son served this neighborhood in Congress, and then went on to serve as President of the United States. I’m here because my family has always appreciated that story. Has known what it meant to be from a place and believe in the promise of this country. To know that their own history meant that not every barrier was broken down, not every hard path cleared, but that here, in America, there was that shot for any striving family. The chance to build a home, and to make the most out of your dreams.”
After touching on the Kennedy Family’s roots here, Kennedy laid out his vision for his U.S. Senate run.
“I know that, like my family, there are millions of others that are here, that believe in that chance,” said Kennedy. “That strive for that moment to provide for their families, and build a better future for the place that they call home. And I know that through fate, but often times through choices made by this country, by our government, that those barriers have been erected, not taken down. That far too many dreams have been blocked or deferred, rather than realized.”
Kennedy said he runs to tear down a system that has marginalized millions of people in the U.S.
“I know that for the first time in modern American history, we have a President that is actively trying to make that harder. We have a Senate that instead of trying to harness the opportunity and potential of every person in this country, they’re trying to pull us back,” he said. “And I’m running for the United States Senate to tear that down, to fight back, with everything we’ve got.”
Appealing to the liberal crowd Kennedy said President Donald Trump has forced a reckoning in our nation but to meet this moment requires more than just defeating him.
“It requires taking on, clearly, a broken system that calcified structures that allowed him to win in the first place,” he said. “The daily acts of oppression and injustice that enabled 63 million Americans to think that he was a better steward of their dreams and hopes and aspirations. Our country deserves better. We deserve more.”
Kennedy said people deserve an economic justice where a hard day’s work means an honest day’s pay.
“Where you can provide for your family. Where a health care system means that you can get access to the health care that you need when you need it,” he said. “Where people can afford to live in the cities that they call home, the cities that they power. Where we have an immigration policy that is reflective of our humanity and makes our nation stronger. Where we have a healthy planet for our children, and their children. This is that moment. This one counts. For us, and for the generations that come after.”
Kennedy added that the challenge is far too urgent for him to sit and wait for somebody else to take it on–a nod to some Markey supporters that think Kennedy should ‘wait his turn’ to run for Senate.
“I have traveled around this country over the past several years, and every corner of it,” he said. “And I have asked people to do more, to hold on, to fight back a bit stronger, to give every little bit that they’ve got. And so I will too, and I hope that you will join me, for every single day, to prove that the way you fight back against the politics of “you can’t,” against the politics of division, against the politics of doubt about what we can do as a country, is to bring every voice in, to lift every voice, and to believe that if you have a country as good as the people it serves that nothing will get in the way of what we can do.”