Cassandra Q. Butts, who was President Obama’s classmate at Harvard Law School and a longtime member of the president’s inner circle who advised him throughout his political career and served as a deputy White House counsel, died May 25 at her home in Washington. She was 50.
After complaining that she was not feeling well and seeking medical attention early last week, she died before learning that she had been diagnosed with acute leukemia, her family said.
President Obama said, “To know Cassandra Butts was to know someone who made you want to be better.”
He said that both he and his wife were fortunate to count Cassandra as a friend for most of their adult lives.
“Cassandra and I met as law students, and we quickly discovered a shared passion for jazz – and for public service. It was a passion she’d chased for the rest of her life – on Capitol Hill, at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and as an advisor of mine – but above all, as a citizen, always pushing, always doing her part to advance the causes of opportunity, civil rights, development, and democracy. Cassandra was someone who put her hands squarely on that arc of the moral universe, and never stopped doing whatever she could to bend it towards justice,” the President noted.
He bemoaned the fact their friend was gone too soon. “We lost her this week, at far too young an age. But along with all her friends and family, we find comfort in the knowledge that all the good she did for so many lives on. She made America better. She made so many lives better, including ours. We admired her so much. And we will miss her deeply, the President concluded.
Marcia Wright, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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