Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Death of Sargent Shriver, age 95

R. Sargent Shriver, Peace Corps Leader, Dies at 95, by Robert T. Mcfadden. The New York Times. 1/18/2011

Sargent Shriver was of the generation of Catholics educated pre-Vatican II,  who were vigorous promoters of social justice.  Pre-dating the Religious Right, he was a political liberal who was also pro-life.  "Mr. Shriver was never elected to any national office. To political insiders, his calls for public service in the 1960s seemed quixotic at a time when America was caught up in a war in Vietnam, a cold war with the Soviet Union and civil rights struggles and urban riots at home. But when the fogs of war and chaos cleared years later, he was remembered by many as a last vestige of Kennedy-era idealism."

In 1955, in Chicago, he became president of the Catholic Interracial Council, which fought discrimination in housing and education.  In 1961, under JFK, he became the founding head of the Peace Corps.  Under LBJ, he headed the Office of Economic Opportunity, which created Head Start, the Job Corps, Volunteers in Service to America, the Community Action Program and Legal Services for the Poor.  Shriver was actively involved in the The Special Olympics, which was founded by his wife Eunice. In 1967, he founded the National Clearinghouse for Legal Services, now known as the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.  Sargent Shriver was the epitome of public service.

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