Public Papers

Remarks at the Stan Scott Tribute Dinner


Thank you all, and please be seated. And Connie, let me thank you on behalf ofeverybody here for your key role in making this such a very special evening. Lou Sullivan, our Secretary, who in my view is doing a superb job, is, as many of you know, off in Africa or he certainly would have been here. And he sends his greetings.

And I don't know how you begin to thank everybody in this distinguished audience. We have Senator Pressler, Senator Breaux, and Bob Livingston, Julian Dixon, Art Fletcher, Charlie Rangel, Buddy Roemer, Ambassador Weinmann, Sid Barthelemy, Chris Edley, Bill Gray. Ron Brown's supposed to be here. I hope he is. Percy Sutton, Lionel Hampton, Vernon Jordan, Peabo Bryson, and on and on it goes in one of the most glamorous get-togethers. I don't see how some of us fit in the same room with our views, but you know why we're all brought together: It's Stan Scott.

What are you laughing at? [Laughter]

But let me also salute the family: Bettye and, of course, Stan and Susan, Ken, Stan, Jr. I'm fibrillating just trying to get through the acknowledgments of this darned dinner. [Laughter] Barbara and I don't go out much. [Laughter] We get asked out some, but we don't go out much. And I know I speak for her when I say what a joy, just on a plain friendship basis, what a joy this evening has been.

Imagine a guy like me from Texas associating with an Ivy League elitist like Governor Roemer of Louisiana. [Laughter] It's absolutely -- two degrees from Harvard. Can you imagine that? And when I got tonight's program and looked down this awesome list of speakers, I felt like a contestant on ``Star Search.'' [Laughter] It's bad enough when you have one act to follow, but six is a little too much.

And after all this eloquence, I know how Zsa Zsa Gabor's last husband felt. [Laughter] I know what I'm supposed to do, but I'm not exactly sure how to make it interesting. [Laughter]

But, listen, thank you, Connie, and all the others that arranged this wonderful program for, really, for urging us to come, for letting me participate, and Barbara and me to be such enthusiastic participants in this. Let me salute the Stanley Scott Scholarship Fund. And I can't tell you how much it means to join all of you in praising our close friend and saying a simple thanks to you, Stan, for bringing us all together and for so much more.

You know, Stan offers living proof that love nourishes virtue, that hard work pays, that good things happen to good people, and most impressive, that some journalists can turn to honest work. [Laughter]

Now that you have sold your beer distributorship, Stan, you are at liberty to divulge the great secret. And I hope Leonard Goldstein won't take offense. But we all want to know which is it: ``tastes great'' or ``less filling''? [Laughter]

Those of us who know Stan and feel we know him well, know that four passions govern his life: love of family, love of country, love of adventure, and love of good works. And I'm leaving out his love of the Los Angeles Lakers which is a sore subject this year.

But Stan's family instilled in him a real hunger for knowledge. And lest some of you haven't milled through this room, I don't know whose looking after Atlanta. So many Scotts from there are here. But somebody's looking after the store.

But you feel this sense of family when you're around Stanley. And you know that his family instilled in him a real hunger for knowledge. His love of country inspired him to give back some of freedom's blessings. His love of adventure gave him the courage to shift careers without even shifting gears: journalism, politics, corporate communications, private business. And his love of good works moved him to try new ideas, new angles, new approaches, to make the best for this magnificent gift of friendship.

If you look around the room, you get an appreciation of the power of Stan's personality. Here, we have people of all colors, all parties, all backgrounds. It's the darndest, wild, and crazy mix of different political views I've ever seen. You have Democrats such as former Congressman Bill Gray and New Orleans' very able Mayor Sidney Barthelemy join Republicans such as Connie Newman and Buddy Roemer. And we're here because of Stan, who taught us all really what friendship means and because we know that education can foster true brotherhood. It can lead us as individuals and as a Nation to the true equality that we have sought so long. It can dissolve the ignorance, prejudice, and hatred that build high walls between people.

And the United Negro College Fund strengthens America by extending educations to deserving men and women at 41 private historically black colleges and universities. The Stanley Scott Scholarships will be built upon that solid legacy.

And no one here underestimates the importance of the UNCF's mission or, frankly, the difficulties that it faces. Many UNCF institutions have suffered through some tough times, but they have survived, thanks to the hard work of people in this room and to the professionals who work at UNCF institutions.

The United Negro College Fund keeps hope alive by ministering specially to black American men and women. And if you'll permit me a personal note, my own personal involvment started way back in 1947 when I was at college and when Bill Trent, who was well and favorably known to so many of us in this room, came into my life and signed me up. Now, as Bill Gray very generously mentioned, as honorary chairman of Campaign 2000, I take great happiness and great joy in the fact that my family has a continued involvement. And my younger brother, John, will become chairman of the board of the United Negro College Fund, starting in April of 1992.

We all know, we all believe, that a mind is a terrible thing to waste and so, frankly, are United Negro College Fund colleges and universities. We must not let them be wasted.

And before I go any further, let me just ask everyone to thank and to recognize Chris Edley's fabulous work as UNCF president. Can't see him out there, but -- -- [applause]. And I know there are other previous presidents, my old and dear and close friend Art Fletcher and Vernon Jordan, and I'm leaving out a thousand because so many men of distinction and others have served as president of the UNCF.

Now, a word about the next president of the UNCF. You see, Bill's appointment is a two-fer, what they call a two-fer for me. When he resigned his seat in the House today, the Democrats lost a fine leader, and I lost a very tough and a very effective, always fair, but a very tough and effective opponent. But the cause I care about deeply, the one that joins us tonight, has gained this great leader. And so, I can't help but win. Get him out of the way. And here we are working together for a cause we all believe in.

But our real star at this all-star tribute is Stan and his many contributions to our lives. The Scott Scholarship Fund represents the kind of service that all of us admire. And it will extend the gift of knowledge to young men and women who might not otherwise get college educations. It will strengthen the 41 private institutions that comprise the UNCF. And it will strengthen, really it will strengthen our Nation.

I'm committed to seeing our Nation become the world's leader in education. I hate to see this many people assembled without making what perhaps is the only partisan pitch of the evening, but I will make it as nonpartisan as possible: I do want to ask you to look at our America 2000 education strategy. It is new, it is innovative, and I believe that it will achieve the national education goals that we established in conjunction with every single one of the Nation's Governors. So, look at it, and help us if you can. It's going to lead to great things for the kids of this country.

I know that we have these political differences, but we're setting those all aside. And better, let us use them if we can as a source of strength. We must remember always, in the process, that civility lies at the heart of civil rights.

The people in this room can make a huge difference, as Stan has, and many of you in this room have. Let me give you an example. I don't know if Ron Brown, who's been a sponsor of this organization, is here tonight, and I don't mean to embarrass him. But let me just tell you what I'm talking about when I'm talking about civility.

I think of the wasting illness that claimed my friend, Lee Atwater. And some in the press and some in the political arena taunted him. He invited some of it, I'll readily admit, but nevertheless, they taunted him. And the personal attacks really tortured his family and his friends. And during all of this, Ron Brown quietly and gently sent messages of encouragement and friendship to Lee and Sally Atwater. He didn't leak it to the press. He did what friends do: He just gave a piece of himself. And I don't have to state the obvious, but Ron and Lee didn't agree on a hell of a lot in terms of politics. But they knew that no political dispute is worth surrendering people's basic decency. And I salute Ron for that approach.

And so, many of us will disagree over particulars of social policy, but we have only ourselves to blame if we fail to promote a good society, a Nation united in its quest for brotherhood, indivisible in its determination to provide sound educations for everyone, committed to promoting the kind of fairness that really counts, a growing economy that gives every man and woman a fair chance to go as far as their abilities will take them. And Stan, you see, has given life to the ideas discussed here tonight.

His strength of character and the range of his accomplishments are legend; I loved that film. We may have little fights, but Stan has taken on what literally is the fight of his life.

And, Stan, we love you. We're pulling for you. You have served your Nation and your many friends long and selflessly. We salute you. And ladies and gentlemen, so let us just give thanks to and for a great American. And, Stan, thanks for giving us a look at our better selves and depriving us of excuses when we think that things seem too tough, the odds too long, the path too cluttered with obstructions.

You, through your example, have overcome, and in time so shall we all. God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 8:34 p.m. in the ballroom at the Washington Sheraton Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Constance Berry Newman, Director of the Office of Personal Management; Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan; Senators Larry Pressler and John B. Breaux; Representatives Bob Livingston, Julian C. Dixon, and Charles B. Rangel; Arthur A. Fletcher, Chairman of the Commission on Civil Rights; Governor Buddy Roemer of Louisiana; John G. Weinmann, U.S. Ambassador to Finland; Sid Barthelemy, mayor of New Orleans; Chris Edley, former president of the United Negro College Fund; William H. Gray III, president of the United Negro College Fund; Ronald H. Brown, chairman of the Democratic National Committee; Percy Sutton, general partner, Apollo Theatre Investor Group; musician Lionel Hampton; Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., former president of the National Urban League; singer Peabo Bryson; Stan Scott's wife, Bettye, and family members Susan, Ken, and Stan, Jr.; Leonard Goldstein, president of Miller Brewing Co.; William Trent, former president of the United Negro College Fund; John Bush, brother of President Bush; and Lee Atwater, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, and his widow, Sally. The President also referred to the television program, ``Star Search'' and a video shown at the dinner on Stan Scott's life. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.