Former president Bill Clinton speaks at U of M

MINNEAPOLIS - Former President Bill Clinton received a public leadership award at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus on Monday night.

Clinton addressed the crowd in a speech at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on civil rights issues. He took time to acknowledge Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey.

"Hubert Humphrey carried a bill to lift the last great stain on American history," Clinton said, referring to Humphrey's support of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

But Clinton continued, saying the fight for equality goes on.

"It is always a mistake to relegate to history as completed any fundamental effort to form a more perfect union," he added.

He also referenced the nation's divided political system.

"In a larger sense we are too divided, not because we shouldn't argue but because we don't want to resolve," Clinton said.

"When trust goes out of a political system, progress becomes almost impossible. Because without trust, no matter how closely you write something, you fear the other side will find wiggle room."

The country's 42nd president was well received by a packed Northrop Auditorium. After the speech, listeners commented on the need to act according to the president's challenge.

"Of course there's a lot of work, but without hope... we would not be able to change anything," said Walid Assa.

Among those hearing the challenge, university officials who say they also want to do something about a statistically small black student population throughout the University of Minnesota.

"None of us are happy with the numbers and percentages with students from underrepresented groups," said Eric Schwartz, the Dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Schwartz added the university is tackling the disparity with several measures, including scholarships focused on diversity and inclusion. President Clinton's speech raised more than $100,000 for those scholarships, Schwartz added.

Clinton was part of the school's ongoing speaker series to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.


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