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Presidential remarks in honor of Dorothy Height, 1/10/01

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                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                         January 10, 2001

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                        IN HONOR OF DOROTHY HEIGHT

                    The National Council of Negro Women
                             Washington. D.C.

1:48 P.M. EST

          THE PRESIDENT:  I'd like to thank Representative Sheila Jackson
Lee, and Donald Payne from New Jersey, and our neighbor, Elijah Cummings,
thank you for being here.  I've actually known Dorothy Height for several
years.  Before I became President I knew her, thanks to my wife.  They were
on the board of the Children's Defense Fund 25 years ago, when I was still
a child.  (Laughter.)

          And I was just looking at her speak today, as she was just up
here speaking, and how fluid and eloquent she was, and I thought, she has
more energy at 88 than most people have at 22.  (Applause.)

          I wanted to come here to help you with your Dorothy Height's
Legacy Initiative, to pay off the mortgage of this magnificent old
building.  It's an extra added treat to see the chair where Mr. Lincoln
posed for Mathew Brady.  I love those old photographs.  And I have two
myself, Dorothy, that I've collected over the years -- two that Abraham
Lincoln sat for in 1861 and 1862, as well as a copy from the original plate
of the photograph he took in June of 1860, two weeks before he became the
nominee of the Republican Party for President.

          So I'm honored to be here with that memory and that legacy, but
mostly with your legacy.  And I think you belong in this building, and you
belong midway between the Capitol and the White House, so you can keep an
eye on both parties.  (Laughter and applause.)

          You know, Dorothy said that the National Council of Negro Women
has been in business since 1935.  You just think about what America was
like in 1935, and think about all the hills we've climbed since then.  And
as generous as you were to me, frankly, all I did was what was
self-evident, what I believed in my heart.  What you have had to do was to
change the laws and the heart of America.  And you did it in a magnificent
fashion, and I thank you.  (Applause.)

          You mentioned our efforts to build one America.  Ben Johnson has
done a great job heading our One America effort in our offices there.  I
hope that in the future this will be a nonpartisan effort, because America
is growing so much more racially and ethnically and religiously diverse.

          I was in a grade school in Chicago yesterday, where half the kids
were Asian, 18 percent were African American, 17.5 percent were Hispanic,
the rest were white ethnic, mostly Croatian.  And that's where we're going.
And it's going to be a great ride, if we get it right.  But whatever is
still there we need to give up, we're going to have to shed it, because we
don't have a lot of time to waste now.

          And I think that if you look all over the world, all the trouble
spots of the world, most countries and most people get in trouble when they
try to organize folks around hatred or disdain or disregard for people or
groups who are different from them.  They either look different than they
do, they worship God in a different way, or they're just different.  And
it's hard to get to the point in life where you can have an honest
disagreement with somebody and still acknowledge that their humanity is
just as valid as yours, and that life's a lot more interesting, because
they're not just like you are.

          If everybody were just like us, then life wouldn't be nearly as
interesting as it is.  Sometimes, life in America is a little too
interesting to suit me, but -- (laughter) -- but still, it's good.  You
know, it keeps us flourishing and it keeps the country forever young.

          I honestly believe that Dorothy is so young after all these years
of effort because she has given herself to a larger and higher calling.  If
you get up every day and do good, it eventually will show on your face; it
will be heard in your voice.  It just is unavoidable.  And her beauty and
youth is a testament of the timelessness of her cause.  And I'm just glad
to be one of her foot soldiers here today.

          Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

                             END                 1:52 P.M. EST

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