Clinton Focuses on Race with $250,000 Grant from Southwestern Bell

by Brendan O'Reilly  on Friday, Aug. 3, 2001 1:58 pm  

Former President Bill Clinton said today that now that he's no longer running for office, he can focus his time and energy on closing the disparities in social welfare that lead to poorer health and incarceration rates among minority groups.

"California now has no majority race," Clinton said at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce ceremony. "At some point, America will not have a majority race."

The ceremony commemorated a $250,000 donation from the SBC Foundation, the philanthropic arm of SBC Communications Inc. of San Antonio, to the Clinton Presidential Foundation to establish the Global Diversity Project. SBC is the parent company of Southwestern Bell Telephone Co.

Clinton said that while he was governor of Arkansas, he was always impressed with Southwestern Bell's progressive stance on race and women's issues.

In her speech introducing Clinton, Southwestern Bell-Arkansas President Cynthia Brinkley said 40 percent of SBC's work force is people of color, 30 percent of its management is people of color, 50 percent of the company's management is female and 30 percent of the company's board of directors is female. SBC has been named one of the best companies for which minorities can work by Fortune Magazine, and SBC donated $28 million last year to support minority organizations.

In Arkansas, the company has awarded nearly $1 million through the Southwestern Bell Daisy & L.C. Bates Minority Scholarship Program.

In 2000, Brinkley said SBC spent $3 billion with minority vendors, the most of any telecommunications company. That put it in the Top 10 among all companies.

The Global Diversity Project at the Bill Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock will focus on reconciliation, mediation and conflict resolution of racial and cultural issues and policies worldwide.

Of particular importance, Clinton said, is reforming the criminal justice system.

"Education, training and drug treatment programs within our criminal justice system is side-stepped in favor of other priorities," Clinton said. "If we have such a high percentage of African American men coming in contact with the criminal justice system without doing anything to provide education, training and drug treatment to them while they're incarcerated, we will never address the other problems of racial injustice and inequality adequately."

Clinton said he recognizes that the government can't be expected to do all the things that he hopes to do in his post-Presidential years.

"I'd like to spend the majority of the rest of my life closing the divides that exist in this country. I spent eight years trying to get people to give up racial, religious and ethnic hatred worldwide. We can't do that unless we can hold ourselves up as an example to the world. Nobody expects us to be perfect, but they at least expect us to be trying."



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