Cokie Roberts

Cokie Roberts Image courtesy of Cokie Roberts, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
“I was covering the State of the Union, and I was standing in Statuary Hall, and there was a new shot—a new camera angle that we had never used before—and it was down the center aisle at knee height. And I had this incredible qualm because it all just came rushing back. That was my earliest memory of the chamber, and there it was at the right height for me to see it. But I still have moments in the Capitol where I will turn a corner, and something will just come rushing back. And I’m 63 years old. And there’ll be times when I’ll turn a corner and sort of half expect to see my father. So it’s a very—a place redolent with memories, to put it mildly.”
— Cokie Roberts, August 28, 2007  

Abstract & Transcript

Growing up in and around the U.S. Capitol shaped Cokie Roberts’ future as a nationally recognized congressional reporter. The daughter of prominent U.S. Representatives Hale and Lindy Boggs, who represented a New Orleans-centered district for half a century, Roberts recalled riding the old Senate subway, with its wicker seats; accompanying her father on the House Floor on the Opening Day of Congress in the late 1940s; prodding her father to speak out on the floor in support of the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and listening to prominent dinner guests such as Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas. In this far-ranging pair of interviews, Roberts also discussed lesser-known aspects of the House, such as the Radio-TV Gallery and the executive committee that oversees journalists’ accreditation, as well as her unique position as a congressional journalist in the 1980s while her mother was a leading Member of the House. Roberts’ recollections explain how the culture of congressional bipartisanship that was forged during World War II developed into today’s sharp partisan distinctions and obligatory emphasis on fundraising and campaigning.

Biography

Born Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs on December 27, 1943, in New Orleans, Louisiana, “Cokie” Roberts is the youngest of the three children of Thomas Hale Boggs, Sr., and Lindy Boggs. Roberts’ brother, Tommy, invented her nickname when, as a child, he could not pronounce her given name Corinne.

Cokie attended private Catholic schools—the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans and Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Maryland. In 1964, she graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in political science. She married New York Times correspondent Steven V. Roberts in 1966; they raised two children, Lee and Rebecca. The couple lived in New York, Los Angeles, and Europe for 11 years before returning to Washington, D.C.

Cokie Roberts came of age in the shadow of the Capitol. Her father, Hale Boggs, first won election to a term in the U.S. House in 1940 but lost re-nomination in 1942. After serving in the Naval Reserve during World War II, Boggs was re-elected to the House in 1946. He served from January 1947 until October 1972, when his plane disappeared while he was on a campaign trip to Alaska, and he was presumed dead. During his final decade in the House, Hale Boggs became a powerful member of the leadership, serving as Majority Whip (87th–91st Congresses) and Majority Leader (92nd Congress). Lindy Boggs succeeded her husband in a special election in March 1973, shortly after his seat was declared vacant. A member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, she became an advocate for women’s economic rights, serving until her retirement in January 1991.

Roberts began her radio career as a foreign correspondent for CBS in the 1970s and started covering Capitol Hill for National Public Radio (NPR) in 1978, reporting on the Panama Canal Treaty. Beginning in the early 1980s, she was assigned to Capitol Hill full-time serving as the network’s congressional correspondent for more than a decade. Roberts co-anchored ABC’s “This Week” with Sam Donaldson from 1996 through 2002.

A senior news analyst for NPR and a political commentator for ABC News, Roberts has won three Emmy Awards and was president of the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association from 1981 to 1982. She is the best-selling author of We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters (1998), Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation (2004), and Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation (2008), and in 2000 she and her husband co-authored a book on marriage, From This Day Forward. Roberts and her husband reside in Bethesda, Maryland.

Video

Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas and Future President Lyndon Baines Johnson

Description of the relationship between U.S. Representatives Hale and Lindy Boggs of Louisiana and Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas and future President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Cokie Roberts, Congressional Correspondent and Daughter of Representatives Hale and Lindy Boggs of Louisiana
Interview recorded June 23, 2009 Deed of Gift

The Changing Institution

Discussion of the changing nature of the House and Congress.

Cokie Roberts, Congressional Correspondent and Daughter of Represenatives Hale and Lindy Boggs of Louisiana
Interview recorded June 23, 2009 Deed of Gift

The Voting Rights Act of 1965

Detailed account of Louisiana Representative Hale Boggs' decision to speak on behalf of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Cokie Roberts, Congressional Correspondent and Daughter of Representatives Hale and Lindy Boggs of Louisiana
Interview recorded June 23, 2009 Deed of Gift

U.S. Representatives Hale and Lindy Boggs of Louisiana

Insight on the political partnership shared by U.S. Representatives Hale and Lindy Boggs of Louisiana.

Cokie Roberts, Congressional Correspondent and Daughter of Representatives Hale and Lindy Boggs of Louisiana
Interview recorded June 23, 2009 Deed of Gift

Audio

Congresswoman Lindy Boggs of Louisiana

Personal description of Louisiana Congresswoman Lindy Boggs’ transition to the public spotlight after her election to Congress in 1973.

Cokie Roberts, Congressional Correspondent and Daughter of Representatives Hale and Lindy Boggs of Louisiana
Interview recorded July 11, 2008 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Life as a Child of a Member of Congress

Detailed account of the close connection between family life and politics for the Boggs family.

Cokie Roberts, Congressional Correspondent and Daughter of Representatives Hale and Lindy Boggs of Louisiana
Interview recorded August 28, 2007 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Memories of the Capitol

Recollections and personal memories of the House and the Capitol.

Cokie Roberts, Congressional Correspondent and Daughter of Representatives Hale and Lindy Boggs of Louisiana
Interview recorded August 28, 2007 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

The Capitol "Playground"

Childhood memories of roaming the Capitol.

Cokie Roberts, Congressional Correspondent and Daughter of Representatives Hale and Lindy Boggs of Louisiana
Interview recorded August 28, 2007 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Images & Artifacts

Boggs Family Outside the Capitol, 1950
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The Boggs family walks along the East Front plaza along the House side of the Capitol in this 1950 image. From left to right, Cokie, Hale, Tommy, Lindy, and Barbara.
Image courtesy of Cokie Roberts, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
Cokie Roberts with Representative Lindy Boggs and Barbara Boggs Sigmund
<em>Cokie Roberts with Representative Lindy Boggs and Barbara Boggs Sigmund</em>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_roberts_women.xml
From left to right, Cokie Roberts, her mother, Representative Lindy Boggs, and sister, Barbara Boggs Sigmund.
Image courtesy of Cokie Roberts, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
Majority Whip Hale Boggs with Speaker of the House John McCormack
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Majority Whip Hale Boggs of Louisiana chats with Speaker of the House John McCormack of Massachusetts on a stairwell that leads to the House Chamber.
Image courtesy of Cokie Roberts, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
Boggs Family at President Harry S. Truman’s Inauguration, 1949
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In this image, the Boggs family (Tommy, Barbara, Lindy, and Lindy’s mother, Corinne Morrison Keller) watch the inauguration of President Harry S. Truman in 1949.
Image courtesy of Cokie Roberts, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
Cokie Roberts with her father, Representative Hale Boggs
<em>Cokie Roberts with her father, Representative Hale Boggs</em>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_roberts_dad.xml
Cokie Roberts looks over the shoulder of her father, Representative Hale Boggs of Louisiana, who would eventually serve as Majority Whip and Majority Leader. Roberts spent considerable time in the Capitol during her childhood.
Image courtesy of Cokie Roberts, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives