Jack Brooks, who spent 42 years in Congress during the days when Democrats took up the majority of Texas politics, has died after a short illness. He was 89 years old.
Brooks worked closely with President John F. Kennedy–he was in the motorcade on the day Kennedy was assassinated–and became well-known for his work on civil rights issues. He actually helped to write the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned racial segregation.
Also on the long list of his accomplishments is the establishment of the Department of Education and the reduction of federal paperwork, which benefitted millions of people even if they weren’t aware of it.
“He literally has saved American taxpayers billions of dollars through his actions in improving government efficiency and eliminating waste,” former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe once said of the Congressman.
Being a Democrat in the state of Texas didn’t come without some hardships, however; Brooks’ stance on gun control and abortion earned him a defeat for re-election in 1994. But Brooks said he recognized that the job was a hard one when he took office and never expected it to be anything but.
“I never thought being a congressman was supposed to be an easy job, and it doesn’t bother me a bit to be in a good fight,” he said.
Brooks is famously pictured standing behind Jackie Kennedy as Lyndon Johnson took the oath of office after the assassination in 1963.