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United Negro College Fund Remarks at a Meeting With Officials of the Fund.

November 11, 1977

Well, first of all, let me say how grateful I am to you, the leaders of our Nation who have joined together to promote the $50 million capital fund for the United Negro College Fund.

When I was elected President, I decided that I would not endorse nor participate in any fundraising effort unless I felt that it was uniquely committed to the best interests of our Nation as a whole. And it's been just a rare occasion when I have let my own name as President be used. The International Red Cross and the Boy Scouts would be two examples. But I feel that the United Negro College Fund is another effort that has the same connotation and the same broad-based benefit to influence the future of our country.

Having been Governor of Georgia and, as Tom has said, participated in this very beneficial effort in the past as a private citizen and as a public official, I know the impact of the courageous private colleges who have predominantly black student bodies on the course of our Nation. They have acted in times of great difficulty, and although their financial status is quite weak and quite uncertain, even today, their academic contributions and their social contributions have been superb.

They've never been weak. They've never been uncertain. They've never been doubtful. Their accomplishments have been recognized by all those who have observed them.

One of the most beneficial entities in the Southland in the crucial years of searching for civil rights have been the black colleges there who, with a staunchness and a commitment that was indeed inspirational even to those who opposed their purposes at that time, ensured success.

This is an effort that you are undertaking which will help them in the uncertain years ahead, because now that some major civil rights accomplishments have been given, we still have the necessity to recognize that society continues to change. And when change comes, that's extraordinarily expensive for those who are on the cutting edge of beneficial change.

Fifty million dollars is an awfully small amount for 41 colleges to share, but it's a very difficult thing to raise this amount of money. And only by the involvement of the President and the Vice President and the Governors of States and very influential corporate, business, and professional leaders like yourselves can the effort be successful.

I have confidence in the future of these negro colleges. They have come through a testing period where their strength and commitment and quality have already been proven. And we should not ever lessen our commitment to them simply because they are becoming more acceptable in the broad-based American societal life as a probing point for quality, for change, for the benefits derived to all our people regardless of race.

One of the obvious purposes is to give a superb education to those students in our Nation who could not otherwise afford it. Another one is to preserve the uniqueness of a curriculum and a student body commitment that mirror quite often the yearnings and the frustrations and the desires and the hopes and the dreams and aspirations of families of those students who, because of racial prejudice and discrimination, did not have a chance for a good education or to broaden their hearts and their minds. And in many ways these modern-day students of minority groups represent not only themselves but they represent their families and their other ancestors who have been so severely deprived.

We have an obligation to them to redress longstanding grievances and to let the progress in the future mirror not just a degree which represents the progress of the rest of our Nation's educational society, but a much more rapid rate of progress to overcome some of the handicaps that have been inflicted upon these people in the past.

I think we have a lot to learn, also, from the predominantly black colleges of our Nation. They have come to represent a unique symbol of human rights in all its broad categories. Because of the well-organized effort, quite often they represent, perhaps even inadvertently, other groups in our American society who are not so well organized, not so well represented as you are represented around this table, and who don't have a well-publicized effort to correct wrongs.

So, for all of these reasons, I, as President, am not only proud of the predominantly black colleges of our Nation represented by the fund, but also am proud of you for being willing to contribute your very valuable time to this effort. I'm available on this occasion and others to help you.

I know that you recognize that the hard work of fundraising has to be in your hands, but I can't think of a better project for you to undertake. It's a tribute to you, and I know it's an inspirational thing for you to be involved in so worthy a cause. So, good luck in your fundraising efforts. I'm a proud partner with you in one of the finest commitments for the benefit of all the American people that I can imagine. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:15 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, where officials of the fund and corporate executives were meeting with White House staff members on the inauguration of the 2-year Capital Fund Campaign.

Jimmy Carter, United Negro College Fund Remarks at a Meeting With Officials of the Fund. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242708

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