Congresswoman Lindy Boggs Dead at 97

Lindy Boggs — civil rights champion and the first woman from Louisiana to be elected to the House — has passed away at 97.

Boggs, who took over her husband's seat in the House of Representatives in a special election after he died in a plane crash, served as a Louisiana Democrat for 18 years. She was the first woman elected to Congress from her state, and, three years later in 1976, she became the first female to preside over a Democratic National Convention.

Boggs pushed for equal pay for government jobs and non-discriminatory access to government contracts for women, and was instrumental in making the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 sexism-free — without her efforts, "marital status" and "sex" wouldn't have been included as classes to be prohibited from discrimination.

The way she did it? In her memoir, she recalls saying at the time: “Knowing the members composing this committee as well as I do, I’m sure it was just an oversight that we didn’t have ‘sex’ or ‘marital status’ included. I’ve taken care of that, and I trust it meets with the committee’s approval.”

She was also a champion of civil rights, saying, “You couldn’t want to reverse the injustices of the political system and not include the blacks and the poor; it was just obvious." And when she retired from the House in 1990, she was the only white member of Congress representing a black-majority district.

In her memoir, she pins down the main lesson she learned during her years on Capitol Hill: "You played the Washington game with confidence and authority and graciousness.”

She did.

[Image: Loyola University via Flickr]