TAKING THE INITIATIVE
SEPTEMBER 30, 1997
For the first time since the introduction of "One America," the nation-wide program to promote dialogue on race, President Clinton met with his advisory board to discuss the ongoing initiative. After this background report by Kwame Holman, two members of the board, chairman John Hope Franklin and Angela Oh, discuss the goals of the commission.
KWAME HOLMAN: Today in Washington, the President made his first public appearance with his advisory board in June when he appointed the seven scholars, former politicians, and religious and other leaders to advise him on ways to achieve racial reconciliation. Despite criticism, the group has moved slowly. But the President said he was pleased with the board's work thus far.
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
September 30, 1997:
Presidential race advisers discuss Clinton's One America initiative.
September 25, 1997:
A look back at school desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas 40 years ago.
October 10, 1997:
Online Forum The President's race advisory panel on school desegregation.
July 4, 1997:
Online Forum The Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook joins Angela Oh in responding to the first online forum on race relations.
June 16, 1997:
Experts analyze the merits of the President's weekend speech on race relations.
May 20, 1997:
Betty Ann Bowser reports on the effects of dropping affirmative action programs in Texas universities.
May 20, 1997:
The authors of All That We Can Be: Black Leadership and Racial Integration the Army Way discuss social success in the military.
April 9, 1997:
A federal court in California upholds a state ban on affirmative action programs.
Feb. 21, 1997:
The Online NewsHour hosts a forum on the declining economic power of Hispanic Americans.
Jan. 15, 1996:
Charlayne Hunter-Gault talks to Benjamin DeMott about his book The Trouble with Friendship: Why Americans Can't Think Straight about Race.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of Race Relations.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I think he made a very important beginning by urging that we focus on the education and economic opportunity, things which cut across racial lines that are necessary to bring us together. I also think it's important that we have the facts, so this afternoon I know you're going to hear from noted scientists and demographers who will share their research on our changing population patterns and attitudes on race, and I think that's an important thing. I'm going to have a town hall meeting on this subject on December 2nd. And I will continue to do what I can to support you in reaching out to Americans of all backgrounds and actually discussing this so that we build bridges of mutual understanding and reconciliation. So I look forward to going on with the discussion, and I think maybe the Vice President might like to say a word or two, and then we can go forward.
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: I think this initiative, as I said previously, may turn out to be the most important single initiative of your entire presidency because it's obviously so important for our nation. Race is a pervasive, if often unacknowledged, part of every issue, controversy, indeed, conversation in the United States of America. And those who pretend it's not are in danger of deluding themselves and missing important aspects of whatever subject they're trying to deal with. Secondly, however, if it's dealt with openly in the kind of historic national dialogue the President has chartered for our nation and followed up with the kinds of actions that he has recommended and pointed the way to it can be transcended.
KWAME HOLMAN: Board members then took their turns making statements. Linda Chavez-Thompson of the AFL-CIO said children will be one bridge to transcending race.
LINDA CHAVEZ-THOMPSON: It is almost a very crucial part for this advisory board to bring the young people in to converse about how they will make whatever plans we come forth in a year. We're not going to be around long enough to implement some of those if we don't have the youth of this country involved in the conversation of race because they're going to be the ones that finalize whatever plans we put together.
KWAME HOLMAN: Tom Kean is a former Republican governor of New Jersey.
TOM KEAN: I don't know if people in this country really recognize just how important this initiative is. In my state alone we have over a hundred recognized ethnic groups and racial groups. Whether or not this democracy is--I believe--is going to survive and flourish depends how well we are going to live together, how well we can resolve our differences.
KWAME HOLMAN: William Winter was the Democratic governor of Mississippi.
WILLIAM WINTER: We live in this very diverse country, increasingly diverse, and yet, there is--there are common values that we all share. And my understanding is that the common value that maybe is most common to all of us is what we want for our children. If every school in America could look like the one where my grandchildren go, I think we would establish these common values in a way that would ensure that we will be one America.
KWAME HOLMAN: President Clinton said integrated schools start with integrated neighborhood and today he announced public and private efforts aimed at combating housing discrimination.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you.
KWAME HOLMAN: And late today, the President's spokesman said the President is unlikely to offer an apology to black Americans on behalf of the nation for slavery or segregation. He said community leaders have not raised the issue with the President, and it has not been an active item of discussion by the advisory board.