Thomas D’Ale­san­dro Jr.

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK - BY NANCY PELOSI Twit­ter: @Nan­cyPelosi Nancy Pelosi is the Demo­cratic leader in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and rep­re­sents Cal­i­for­nia’s 12th dis­trict.

It is with deep ad­mi­ra­tion that I honor my fa­ther, Thomas D’Ale­san­dro Jr., as we rec­og­nize the im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tions of Ital­ian Amer­i­cans to our coun­try.

Born to a big im­mi­grant fam­ily in turn-of-the-cen­tury Bal­ti­more, my fa­ther would spend nearly four decades in public of­fice. From the Mary­land State House to Congress to City Hall to the Kennedy and John­son ad­min­is­tra­tions, he worked to build a bet­ter fu­ture for the down­trod­den and dis­en­fran­chised. He and my mother made sure that our home in Bal­ti­more’s Lit­tle Italy was open to the hun­gry and the home­less. My par­ents taught my sib­lings and me thatwe had a fun­da­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­ity to help our fel­low hu­man be­ings. They prac­ticed the Gospel of Matthew ev­ery day.

My fa­ther was elected to Congress in 1938 dur­ing an era of per­va­sive prej­u­dice against Ital­ian Amer­i­cans. And he boasted that he was not only the first Ital­ian Amer­i­can mayor of Bal­ti­more but the city’s first Catholic mayor, too. Decades later, as I broke through my own mar­ble ceil­ing to be­come the first fe­male speaker of the House, my fa­ther’s legacy was a pil­lar of strength for me. With char­ac­ter­is­tic panache and pride in his her­itage and faith, he boldly faced down prej­u­dice, en­abling many oth­ers to suc­ceed.

Allmy time in Congress has been in­formed by my fam­ily’s re­spect for our her­itage — and the ap­pre­ci­a­tion it gave me for the pride oth­ers take in theirs. That has served me well in rep­re­sent­ing the beau­ti­ful, eth­ni­cally and racially di­verse city of San Fran­cisco and in fight­ing to em­power the proud, hard­work­ing fam­i­lies of ev­ery Amer­i­can com­mu­nity.

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