Bryan Bender/Globe Staff
By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff
WASHINGTON -- Holding up sheets of paper with the closing lines from one of Edward M. Kennedy's most famous political speeches, several hundred people gathered in the heart of the nation's capital tonight to hold a candlelight vigil in memory of the late Massachusetts senator.
Holding aloft the words "The cause endures, the work goes on, the hope still lives, the dream shall never die" -- taken from Kennedy's 1980 Democratic convention speech -- the diverse group stood in a circle, several people deep, and lit candles as twilight descended over Dupont Circle.
Laurie Coburn, a wheelchair bound 68-year-old, came with nine-year-old Ayesa Akhter, who she said "adopted me" when the two met several years ago.
"I here because I'm grieving," said Coburn, who described herself as an advocate for gay and lesbian rights, racial justice, and reproductive health. "I'm devastated he's not here to make the breakthrough we need."
Ayesa, who came here with her family from Bangladesh in 2005, chimed in: "I know he helped health care. He was a great senator."
Trevor Sandwith, 50, and Leonard Solai, 43, both originally from South Africa, said they wanted to pay tribute to an individual they said was an early critic of the apartheid regime in their native country. "He was there speaking out in the early days," said Solai.
Tom Matzzie, 34, of Washington, a political consultant, organized the event yesterday afternoon by email.
"His dream was the American dream," Matzzie said. "The progressive dream. That you deserve a shot at it regardless of where you are from, your race, financial status, or your health condition."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.