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CORE Harmony Awards

Governor George W. Bush was the guest of honor at the Congress of Racial Equality's annual Harmony Awards Dinner held June 25, 2000. One of the stellar honorees was Ms. Christel DeHann, founder of Christel House, a public charity helping orphaned, abandoned and impoverished children around the world break the cycle of poverty and become self-sufficient, contributing members of their societies. The remarkable choice for other honorees include both black and white descendents of President Thomas Jefferson through both Sally Hemings and Martha Wayles. They include Ms. Shay Banks-Young, Ms. Julia Jefferson Westermen, Robert Golden and Lucian Truscott and their appearance together reflected the true spirit of harmony.

During Mayor Giuliani's remarks, he said "CORE, Roy Innes and George W. Bush have something basic in common; dealing with including people not dividing them into subgroups in our society."

Roy Innes told the near capacity crowd in the Hilton Hotel ballroom that Gore was invited but declined. "CORE always prides itself in keeping an open podium to people of all points of view. The civil rights movement was successful because it kept the moral high ground. In the black community there is a reign of intellectual terror trying to keep it a monolith of thought. I have fought against this all my life. It is wrong for one point of view to define our entire group. That is the reason for the Harmony Awards Dinner," said Innes. He added that in the past Dr. King, James Farmer, and other giants in the movement could talk together and even disagree but always dealt with each other in harmony. Mr. Innes believed the evening's honoree, George W. Bush had the "charisma of FDR and the fortitude of Lincoln."

Mr. Bush was the most accessible and warm celebrity to attend in many years as he spoke to and took photos with guests throughout the room and answered questions posed to him. He was invited not merely because he is a presidential candidate, but as Governor of Texas, he was instrumental in bringing blacks, Spanish and whites together. Mr. Bush saluted the descendants of Jefferson for their joint appearances on college campuses talking about harmony. He questioned how long it would take for there to be real lasting harmony and remarked that it was a question of changing things "one act of decency at a time."

On education he called for setting high standards by giving more local control of school and holding state and local jurisdictions accountable so students are not moved through the system based on their age but rather on what they have learned. "Convenient excuses for failure are not acceptable for the 21st century," he added. He opposed Federal money subsidizing mediocrity and set a timetable of 3 years to show the funds are helping to teach kids.

He believes it's compassionate for the government to give people their money back so they can direct their families towards prosperity. He said, "I don't take polls to tell me what to think. If you make $22,000, are a single mom raising children - for each additional dollar earned she pays a greater share of her money than our richest people. I want to knock down these excessive tolls to our neediest. We want everyone to have an opportunity to own something including managing retirement and social security funds. Ownership is freedom." Bush said that the great strength of our country lies in the heart and soul of its people and that we are a compassionate people. Also that the government could hand out money but not give hope. The providers of love, compassion and decency are in churches, synagogues and mosques.

In conclusion, and perhaps to show a contrast to the present democratic administration he said, "I will promise to uphold the honor and decency of office."

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