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Congresswoman Louise Slaughter passes away

by Emma Misiaszek - Photo Editor
Tue, Mar 27th 2018 09:00 pm

Environmentalist, feminist and progressive are all words that have been used to describe the late congresswoman Louise Slaughter.

Slaughter was the United States representative for New York’s 25th congressional district from 1987 until her death on March 16 due to a fatal fall inside her home. At the time of her death, she was the oldest sitting member of Congress at the age of 88 and was in her 16th term in Congress.

Born in Lynch, Kentucky, Slaughter studied microbiology at the University of Kentucky and moved to Western New York to promote environmental activism in the area. Her activism transitioned into politics when she was elected to a seat in the New York State Assembly in 1982. 

An aggressive activist, Slaughter championed women’s rights to safety and health, defended the rights of laborers, fought for a free and open internet, and worked to preserve and protect the environment. 

“[She] never forgot where she came from, and she never stopped advocating for the women and men who still have too few champions in Congress,” progressive journalist John Nichols wrote for The Nation.

Slaughter was known as a force to be reckoned with not only within the Capitol Building, but in day-to-day-life. She advocated for the people of her district, blocking every free-trade agreement that came her way with the workers of Rochester in mind. You could find Slaughter in the neighborhoods of those she represented, conducting informational talks in the halls of higher education institutions and attending the many events Rochester holds each year. 

Slaughter has visited The College at Brockport numerous times in the past to speak with students. 

“I first met Congresswoman Louise Slaughter in the fall of 2015 at a campaign event,” Mark Steffenilla, a student at Brockport and former president of the College Democrats, said. “There, she took an interest in knowing that I was currently creating a chapter of College Democrats of NY at SUNY Brockport.”

Steffenilla and other members of the College Democrats were responsible for bringing Slaughter to the college to speak multiple times to the students.

“Louise Slaughter left a uniquely divided nation,” Steffenilla said. “In fact, she left a divided world. A world of which her kind voice was one of reason, realism, respect and compassion. I hope she will be remembered for having that voice in a world of increasing divisions. She was a breath of fresh air in a nation whose highest officials seem to have no standards whatsoever of basic respect.”

When a group of  Brockport students traveled to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21, 2017 for the Women’s March on Washington, Slaughter gladly invited the students to come visit her at her D.C. office, exemplifying her love and care for the youth of her district.

Loved by her constituents, coworkers and even her political opposition, Slaughter will be remembered for her passion, her staunch activism and her love for the people she served.  

“Louise Slaughter was an unparalleled champion for women,” former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted. “I worked with her on the Violence Against Women Act, and I will always remember her grit and determination in standing up for women and families every day. She will be greatly missed.” 

Republican Pete Sessions, the Rules Committee chairman, said in a statement to CNN, “I have had the immense privilege of working side by side with her for the past 20 years. I will always cherish our friendship, comradery and of course, her rhubarb pie. Although we sat on different

sides of the aisle, I have always considered her a partner and have the utmost respect for her.”

Slaughter’s calling hours were held at the Kodak Hall of the Eastman Theatre on Friday, March 23. There, Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Congressman John Lewis all spoke about the beloved congresswoman to the over 2,000 people who attended.

“She was a woman of fire and force with a great smile and a beautiful voice,” Pelosi said. “A southern belle and a national leader with the perfect balance of grit and grace.”

According to The New York Times, Amtrak will rename the Rochester train station in honor longtime Rep. Louise M. Slaughter. 

A trailblazer in American politics, Slaughter will always be remembered by the citizens of Western New York for her tenacity and devotion to her neighbors.

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