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 Home > News & Policies > July 2001

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 9, 2001

Videotaped Remarks of the President to NAACP National Convention

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I'm honored to be able to send my greetings to you for the 92nd annual convention of the NAACP.

Last year I joined you in person at your convention in Baltimore. I said that there is no denying the truth that racism, despite all our progress, still exists, and that there's no escaping the reality that the Party of Lincoln has not always carried the mantle of Lincoln. I said that recognizing and confronting our history is important, but transcending our history is essential. I started by selecting a diverse, well-qualified Cabinet and senior staff. People like Colin Powell, Rod Paige, Condoleeza Rice and Larry Thompson are tearing down barriers and setting new standards for excellence.

Appointments are important, but so is the agenda. I've made reform of our public schools my number one priority. I have worked closely with Democrats and Republicans in Congress, to craft a bill that gives our schools more money, but asks our schools for more in return. High standards, accountability and a culture of excellence is the hallmark of school reform. Every child can learn, and no child should be left behind. I believe my education package is an important step in ensuring that our schools are worthy of our children's dreams.

And my agenda also includes moving forward on my faith-based and community initiatives. All across the country, private religious and community organizations are serving and uplifting the nation's poor through a variety of services, from feeding the hungry to providing drug treatment to educating children with disabilities. Our faith-based and community initiative reflects my belief that government must be active enough to support these charitable groups, but humble enough to let good people in local communities provide such services.

Finally, my agenda is based on the principle of equal opportunity and equal justice. Yet, for too long, too many African-Americans have been subjected to the unfairness of racial profiling. That's why earlier this year I asked Attorney General John Ashcroft to develop specific recommendations to end racial profiling. It's wrong, and it must be ended in America.

There are other ways my agenda will help ensure that the American Dream touches every willing heart; from creating opportunities for affordable housing and health care to encouraging savings and reducing taxes on working people. But throughout, my agenda is laced with some common themes, trusting the people, empowering communities and charities and creating one nation of justice and equality.

It matters what Presidents do. It also matters what Presidents say and how they say it. I've tried to speak in a tone that brings us together, and unites us in purpose. I believe that even when disagreements arise, we should treat each other with civility and with respect. That is a basic requirement of democracy.

When he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. said that whenever he was on an airplane, he was always reminded of how dependent we all are on each other. He said, a flight is successful only because of the hard work and devotion of the known pilots and unknown ground crew. His point was that we all have a role to play, and we cannot succeed as a group unless each one of us succeeds as an individual.

As the President of one of the most diverse nations in the world, I carry the responsibility of making sure that every voice is heard and every person is respected. This is the legacy and the unfinished work of Lincoln, King and so many others, who in ways large and small, have brought us to where we are today. They dreamt of a unified America. Now we must continue to work to convert that dream into a reality.

I hope you have a productive and successful convention. And I look forward to working with you on matters that are vital to America. God bless you all, and God bless America.

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