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Swearing-In Ceremony Remarks at the Swearing In of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, the Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the State Department Coordinator for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs.

June 17, 1977

First of all, I want to welcome all of you here to participate in what I think is both an historical occasion and also a memorable occasion and one that I'm sure will bring great hope and gratification to the people of our country.

All over the world, I believe this year perhaps more than any other time in the history of humankind, there is a concern and an awareness of the question of human rights, the basic dignity of human beings, the hope for peace and freedom, a realization that the individuality of people needs to be recognized and preserved and even enhanced, and a sense that the struggle for these things is making progress.

We have no right to be proud. We have had notable achievements in the last recent years or perhaps, decades, attributable in some degree to those who assemble around me on this step. But we've got a long way to go. We've seen progress made in the South and throughout the Nation on the race question, and I'm very proud of it. Had it not been the case, I would not be President.

And we are now recognizing that there is a majority of people in our country who felt and who still feel discrimination, and that is women. And there's a sense that those who have tested themselves in a courageous way and an innovative way ought to be recognized. Well, all those subjects tie together this afternoon in these three appointments.

Virginia McCarty, from Indiana, is a good politician. She understands people. She's demonstrated a deep commitment about the rights of women and the rights of minority groups. And she's achieved a position that is almost unprecedented. In the 200 years of our Nation's existence, a woman has been a U.S. attorney only 1 year. That was a transient appointment in 1918. And as you know, we have many U.S. attorneys.

And for her now to be recognized is something that is not a subject of pride on my part, but just a sense of long overdue recognition of the women's great achievement in the field of law and the other professions. I am very glad that she will be the U.S. attorney from that State.

Eleanor Holmes Norton has been courageous. Her ideals and hopes and aspirations for poor and weak and inarticulate, sometimes uneducated, noninfluential people, is recognized throughout this country and indeed throughout the world.

She also has a good, strong legal background, and she's brought a sensitivity and a concern and a compassion to those that she has represented, combined with a tough competence in the management of a very difficult governmental bureaucracy. She's managed the commission in New York with great success.

And we now have a great obstacle in the guarantee of basic equal rights in Washington, because of the diversity and the fragmentation and the maladministration of some of the agencies that are supposed to operate efficiently to guarantee those rights.

And I believe that if anyone can bring order out of chaos and have a consistent and effective policy in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it is Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Patt Derian comes from a different part of the country. She comes from Mississippi. And sometimes it's been difficult in Indiana and New York, I know, to speak out for civil rights, but I hope that you will admit that it's a little bit more difficult in Mississippi, or has been in the past. Not any more. But there were just a few people in our part of the country in years gone by who had the deep commitment and the intense demonstration of courage to be almost alone in a community and say the time has come for the black people of our region to have a chance to vote, to own property, to hold a job, to go in public places, to be educated on an equal basis with whites. Patt Derian was one of those very rare people who had the commitment and the courage to do so.

And now she is on a special assignment with the State Department, a very major position. She's already traveled to Africa, to Latin America, to Geneva to represent our country. She's gotten worldwide attention and acclaim for her commitment to human rights and humanitarian purposes of the United States Government.

So, I'm very proud of these three women. I'm very proud to be one who has recognized their past achievements. I'm very proud as your President to be one to give them an opportunity to do even more in the future. They are partners of mine now, and they will be kind of a conscience for me, for the other public officials in Washington, and for our Nation, and I believe will help us set an example that the world might want to emulate.

Judge Higginbotham will now give the oath of office to these three fine Americans.

Note: The President spoke at 2:03 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. Following his remarks, A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, administered the oath of office.

Jimmy Carter, Swearing-In Ceremony Remarks at the Swearing In of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, the Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the State Department Coordinator for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243837

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