Acceptance Speech

Remarks of the Honorable Carl Elliott
Profile in Courage Award Recipient
May 29, 1990

Mrs. Onassis, Caroline Kennedy, Senator Kennedy, my family and friends:

There is no way that I can adequately express to you, and to the Kennedy Library Foundation my appreciation for the honor that you have bestowed upon me today.

I was privileged to serve with John F. Kennedy in the United States House of Representatives. He and I served on the House Committee on Education and Labor. I was in Congress during the entirety of his Presidency.

I know of no greater honor than to be associated with President Kennedy's vision for our country and with your continuing efforts to realize his dreams.

Caroline, and to your brother John also, I am especially pleased with your efforts and those of other members of your family to carry on the work of your father and to help a new generation fully appreciate the qualities of political courage and leadership he so admired. Your efforts will encourage outstanding young people to enter careers of public service.

I am truly humbled to be recognized in the company of the four great Americans - Mayor Blackwell, Congressman Udall, Governor Collins and Governor Bellmon - whom you also honor today.

Early in my life I became aware that brains and ability knew no economic, racial or other distinction. When the Good Lord distributed intellectual ability, I am sure he did so without regard to the color or station in life of the recipient.

I dedicated my public life to insuring that the sons and daughters of the working men and women of this nation would have the opportunity to achieve the highest level of education commensurate with their ability, unfettered by economic, racial or other artificial barriers.

I am proud of the accomplishments that have been made to that end but our work is not yet finished. As long as we have overcrowded classrooms, underpaid teachers, schools with inadequate equipment and young men and women who are denied an education because they do not have the resources, our work is not finished.

John F. Kennedy's vision for America will not be fully accomplished until all our young people have the opportunity to obtain the quality of education which is their birthright. Such educated young people engaged in public service are essential to meet the challenges of each new frontier.

There were those who said that I was ahead of my time, but they were wrong. I believe that I was always behind the times that ought to be.