Clinton: 'We Will Win the Day'
RACE AND FAMILY IN AMERICA
The following are excerpts from President Clinton's Oct. 16 speech in Austin, Texas:
HERE in 1995, on the edge of the 21st century, we dare not tolerate the existence of two Americas.... I will do everything I can to see that as soon as possible there is only one, one America....
Well, how do we get there? First, today I ask every governor, every mayor, every business leader, every church leader, every civic leader, every union steward, every student leader, most important, every citizen ... across America to take personal responsibility for reaching out to people of different races, for taking time to sit down and talk through this issue, to have the courage to speak honestly and frankly, and then to have the discipline to listen quietly, with an open mind and an open heart, as others do the same....
The second thing we have to do is to defend and enhance real opportunity. I'm not talking about opportunity for black Americans or opportunity for white Americans. I'm talking about opportunity for all Americans.
Sooner or later, all our speaking, all our listening, all our caring has to lead to constructive action together for our words and our intentions to have meaning. We can do this, first, by truly rewarding work and family; in government policies, in employment policies, in community practices....
Third, ... we have to give every child in this country and every adult who still needs it the opportunity to get a good education....
At its base this issue of race is not about government or political leaders, it is about what is in the heart and minds and life of the American people. There will be no progress in the absence of real responsibility on the part of all Americans.
Nowhere is that responsibility more important than in our efforts to promote public safety and preserve the rule of law. Law and order is the first responsibility of government. Our citizens must respect the law and those who enforce it.
Police have a life-and-death responsibility never, never to abuse the power granted them by the people.... Police departments have to be fair and engaged with, not estranged from, their communities.... We have to root out the remnants of racism in our police departments. We've got to get it out of our entire criminal justice system.
But just as the police have a sacred duty to protect the community fairly, all of our citizens have a sacred responsibility to respect the police, to teach our young people to respect them, and then to support them and work with them so that they can succeed in making us safer.... Most police officers, of whatever race, are honest people who love the law and put their lives on the line....
The single biggest social problem in our society may be the growing absence of fathers from their children's homes because it contributes to so many other social problems.
One child in 4 grows up in a fatherless home. Without a father to help guide, without a father to care, without a father to teach boys to be men and to teach girls to expect respect from men, it's harder. There are a lot of mothers out there doing a magnificent job alone - a magnificent job alone, but it is harder. It is harder.
This, of course, is not a black problem or a Latino problem or a white problem; it is an American problem, but it aggravates the conditions of the racial divide.... The point is that we need people to be there for their children, day after day. Building a family is the hardest job a man can do, but it's also the most important.
To those who are neglecting their children, I say: It is not too late. Your children still need you. To those who only send money in the form of child support, I say: Keep sending the checks. Your kids count on them - and we'll catch you and enforce the law if you stop. But ... your money is no replacement for your guiding, your caring, your loving the children you brought into this world.
We can only build strong families when men and women respect each other, when they have partnerships, when men are as involved in the home place as women have become involved in the workplace. It means, among other things, that we must keep working until we end domestic violence against women and children.
I hope those men in Washington today pledge, among other things, to never, never raise their hand in violence against a woman....
Today we are really dealing - and we know it - with problems that grow in large measure out of the way all of us look at the world with our minds and the way we feel about the world with our hearts. And therefore, while leaders and legislation may be important, this is work that has to be done by every single one of you.
And this is the ultimate test of our democracy, for today the house divided exists largely in the minds and hearts of the American people. And it must be united there in the minds and hearts of our people. Yes, there are some who would poison our progress by selling short the great character of our people and our enormous capacity to change and grow. But they will not win the day; we will win the day.