Don't Forget About the Other Jesse Helms

Right-wing senator hired blacks and battled AIDS with Bono
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 5, 2008 1:17 PM CDT

(Newser) – Many remember Jesse Helms as an unflinching bigot who fought civil rights and foreign aid, but the former North Carolina senator also softened some views and befriended Bono, John Hunt writes in the Wall Street Journal. “Contrary to his reputation, Helms did change his mind,” Hunt notes: He reversed his position on aid to Israel and partnered with Bono to combat AIDS and poverty in Africa.

A former TV pundit, Helms staked out tough, controversial stances against Communism and UN corruption. He also clung to prejudices against blacks and gays. Yet he employed blacks and unwittingly taught liberals how to exploit technology. His complex career shows that minority voices can “change the political odds in your favor,” Hunt writes, "with persistence and unflinching determination."