Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Award Ceremony Honoring Outstanding Employers of the Handicapped

October 21, 1968

Chairman Russell, Mr. Bodine, distinguished guests:

I wanted to meet with you this morning to thank you and to congratulate you for the partnership that you have achieved.

In the past few years you have helped us to fulfill a fundamental right of citizenship for millions of our people. You have won new job opportunities and dignity for the physically handicapped--releasing them from the prison of prejudice, freeing them from dependence, encouraging the handicapped, and enlightening the employer to the benefit of both.

But our work is not yet complete.

--Too many blind persons are still unemployed.

--Too many of the deaf are still condemned to menial labor.

--Too many victims of epilepsy, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, or muscular dystrophy are still regarded as fit only for the human scrap heap.

So the work of human rehabilitation and social reform demands a continuing commitment in the years to come. Next year, I believe, there will be another meeting like this one, and another the year after.

Presidents may change, but the cause and the commitment of the Presidents will remain. Government can--and I think Government should---continue to lead the way. In the past few years, the doors to Federal employment have been opened widely, we believe, for the handicapped:

--Every department and agency in this administration has acted on a Presidential directive to make fuller use of the abilities of handicapped Americans.

--Fifty departments and agencies have signed agreements with the Civil Service Commission to use special appointing authority to try to hire the handicapped.

--Regular meetings have been held to find jobs for handicapped people.

--In all, the Federal Government has hired 60,000 handicapped men and women in the last 4 years, that's about 15,000 annually on the average. We are, it happens, the largest single employer of the handicapped in the country, and we are the only employer with such a range of specific hiring policies to try to help the handicapped.

The Federal doors must be kept open. And I hope they can be opened wider. I believe it will be done by those who follow me and by those who follow you. So, this morning, we have come here to recognize what has been done, and I am very proud to present the Employer of the Year Awards. They are to be prized both for what they reward and more for what they promise.

The first award--it is in the large business category--goes to the Cone Mills of Greensboro, North Carolina. That is a company with 825 handicapped people in its total work force of 5,500.

The second award goes to the small business category group and it honors Mr. Sam Levin, the President of Levin and Sons of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Mr. Levin employs 200 persons--40 of these 200 are disabled.

I am honored and I am very grateful to express the admiration and the appreciation of all of our people to both of these companies and particularly to speak on behalf of the handicapped people who are benefited by this and to whom this gives great hope and to say to your companies that we appreciate your enlightened leadership and your inspiring example. We hope that some of your fellow employers will take note of this and will bend themselves to try to emulate what you have done so well.

Note: The President spoke at 12:14 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Harold Russell, Chairman, President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped, and Leo V. Bodine, executive vice president, Washington office, National Association of Manufacturers.

Winners of the Employer of the Year Awards are selected by the President's Committee from nominations made by States Governors' Committees on Employment of the Handicapped. The awards are cosponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Award Ceremony Honoring Outstanding Employers of the Handicapped Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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