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FOR THE RECORD Facing History With Courage \(Introductory remarks by Bernard Rapoport, Chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of Texas at Austin, on the Occasion of President Clinton’s AS A LONG-TIME FRIEND of Bill Clinton, and a long-time friend of this University, I am honored by the opportunity to bring us together. Texas has always been a place marked by the courage of its people. In the early days, Texas was a hard place to make a good life. Today, it’s a good place even in hard times. The courage of our state’s leaders, from Sam Houston to Sam Rayburn to Lyndon Johnson to Barbara Jordan and others, stands out in the struggle to build a society that is good for all its people. Courage gave Heman Sweatt strength to stand up for civil rights at The University of Texas years ago ., and it gave University leaders strength to defend affirmative action here in the past year. It takes courage to say the right thing and do the right thing. That’s why Bill Clinton is president of the United States today. Just a few years ago, on a morning like this, a morning that was filled with high spirits and hope, we transcended all troubles for one moment, on the pulse of that morning, when the poet Maya Angelou read aloud in tribute to the inauguration of our president. And she said: History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again. We live in times that demand equally large measures of intellect and courage to lead this nation. We are fortunate to have a president whose head and heart are strong enough to pull this country together now. Albert Camus once said, “Poverty is a prison without a draw-bridge.” Indeed, divisions of wealth, race, class, literacy and more divide us, and will imprison all of us, if we let them. From one Texan to all of you, my fellow Texans, let me urge you not to let them. I urge you to listen to the leader who is courageous enough to speak on the tough issues, who challenges America to heal her differences. Listen to the leader who knows in his heart and soul that a good education is a draw-bridge, that health care is a draw-bridge. Those are strong bridges that free us from the grim work of building prisons, and free us to think about building castles of hope again. We thank you, Mr. President, for your commitment to education as the top priority for young Americans. We thank you, personally, Mr. President, for coming here today to speak about an issue that others are too afraid to mention in their speeches about the future of the country. I believe that unless we talk about race in America we will have no future as a country. Finally, we thank you for seeking a politics of unity, hope and healing to overcome the politics of fear, cynicism and division. Your presence makes me optimistic we can restore public service as a noble calling. The following are excerpts from President Clinton’s speech: White America must understand and acknowledge the roots of black pain. It began with unequal treatment, first in law and later in fact. African-Americans indeed have lived too long with a justice system that in too many cases has been and continues to be less than just. The record of abuses extends from lynchings and trumped-up charges to false arrests and police brutality. The tragedies of Emmet Till and Rodney King are bloody markers on the very same road. Still today too many of our police officers play by the rules of the bad old days. It is beyond wrong when law-abiding black parents have to tell their law-abiding children to fear the police whose salaries are paid by their own taxes. And blacks are right to think something is terribly wrong when African-American men are many times more likely to be victims of homicide than any other group in this country; when there are more African-American men in our corrections system than in our colleges; when almost one in three AfricanAmerican men in their twenties are either in jail, on parole, or otherwise under the supervision of the criminal justice system nearly one in three. And it is a disproportionate percentage in comparison to the percentage of blacks who use drugs in our society. I would like every white person here in America to take a moment to think how he or she would feel if one in three white men were in similar circumstances. And there is still unacceptable economic disparity between blacks and whites. It is so fashionable to talk today about African Americans as if they have been some sort of protected class. Many whites think blacks are getting more than their fair share in terms of jobs and promotions. That is not true. That is not true. The truth is that African Americans still make on average about 60 percent of what white people do; that more than half of African-American children live in poverty. And at the very time our young Americans need access to college more than ever before, black college enrollment is dropping in America. […] On the other hand, blacks must understand and acknowledge the roots of white fear in America. There is a legitimate fear of the violence that is too prevalent in our urban areas; and often by experience or at least what people see on the news at night, violence for those white people too often has a black face. It isn’t racist for a parent to pull his or her child close when walking through a high-crime neighborhood, or to wish to stay away from neighborhoods where innocent children can be shot in school or standing at bus stops by thugs driving by with assault weapons or toting handguns like old west desperados. It isn’t racist for parents to recoil in disgust when they read about a national survey of gang members saying that two-thirds of them feel justified in shooting someone simply for showing them disrespect. It isn’t racist for whites to say they don’t understand why people put up with gangs on the corner or in the projects, or with drugs being sold in the schools or in the open. It’s not racist for whites to assert that the culture of welfare dependency, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and absent fatherhood cannot be broken by social problems unless there is first more personal responsibility. The great potential for this march today, beyond the black community, is that whites will come to see a larger truththat blacks share their fears and embrace their convictions; openly assert that without changes in the black community and within individuals, real change for our society will not come. This march could remind white people that most black people share their old-fashioned American valuesfor most black Americans still do work hard, care for their families, pay their taxes, and obey they law, often under circumstances which are far more difficult than their white counterparts face…. Finally, both sides seem to fear deep down inside that they’ll never quite be able to see each other as more than enemy faces, all of , whom carry at least a sliver of bigotry in their hearts. Differences of Opinion rooted in different experiences are healthy, indeed essential, for democracies. But differences so great and so rooted in race threaten to divide the house Mr. Lincoln gave his life to save. As Dr. King said, “We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish as fools.” 14 NOVEMBER 10, 1995