Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

R.I.P. Claiborne Pell

As reported here, former Rhode Island Sen. Claiborne Pell died on New Year’s day (Thurs).  Thanks to Pell, I and many others in the U.S. got to go to college.  Claiborne Pell initiated the legislation that resulted in the “Pell Grants”–government aid (not loans) to university students based on economic need. (I know that most other industrial democracies are flabbergasted at the way the U.S. does NOT invest in its college/university students. In most of Europe, the standards for admission are higher than in the U.S., but if you make it in, the govt. pays for most or all of your university education–in many countries, students even receive stipends for food and housing! Is it any wonder the U.S. keeps having to import brains from elsewhere? Our lack of investment here will be our economic undoing in years to come.)

Pell also chaired the Foreign Relations Committee and was appointed U.S. delegate to the UN when he retired from the Senate in ’97.  Other Pell landmarks included the legislation creating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His passions were education, arts, humanities and a foreign policy based on diplomacy rather than force.

Rest in peace, senator and may God raise up more public servants of your caliber.  I was the first generation of my family to go to university–and it would never have happened without Claiborne Pell.


January 2, 2009 - Posted by | Obituaries

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