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Two very different icons who represented how the US has changed and grown over the past four decades died over the weekend.

Eugene McCarthy, the former senator from Minnesota who galvanized the antiwar movement in 1968 and helped to force President Lyndon Johnson from office, even though he was later supplanted by Robert F. Kennedy, died Saturday at age 89. By challenging Johnson’s commitment to Vietnam, McCarthy forced the Democratic Party – and, by extension, the nation, to take the antiwar movement seriously.

Also passing away over the weekend was Richard Pryor, who died at age 65 of a heart attack after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. Pryor was profane, troubled and groundbreaking in his approach to life and humor. While he struggled with drug and alcohol addictions, his standup comedy often defined the tensions of race relations. And most of the time, he was hugely, enormously funny.

Icons both.
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