Gov. Doyle Remarks at National NAACP Convention in Milwaukee
Remarks of Governor Jim Doyle as Prepared for Delivery
96th Annual Convention of the NAACP
Monday, July 11, 2005
Chairman Bond, President Gordon, members of the Board, thank you for having me here at your convention. The NAACP is one of the great forces for justice, equality, and opportunity, and it is an honor to be with you today.
In preparing to come here, I started thinking about the theme of this convention, “Conscience of a Nation” …what our nation’s conscience is…where it comes from.
We could say that it comes from the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the freedoms and liberties they allow.
Or from the Declaration of Independence and its “unalienable rights” – life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.”
Or from the Pledge of Allegiance that tells us we’re an indivisible nation that provides “liberty and justice for all.”
These are good and noble words. But our nation’s conscience isn’t scrawled on a piece of parchment in the National Archives…it is what we do…It is how we act…and it is alive and well in every person in this room.
Dr. King, in one of his final sermons, said that nothing will be done until people of goodwill put their bodies and their souls in motion. And for almost a hundred years, that’s exactly what the NAACP has been doing.
And that’s what we’re doing here in Wisconsin. My vision for this state is for everyone who comes here to have the opportunity to enjoy all that life in Wisconsin has to offer.
That means making schools a top priority…because our future, our economy, our country depends on every kid getting a good education.
It means creating jobs …because there’s no better social program than a good-paying, family-supporting job.
And it means employing the talents of every person – regardless of race, age, or background…because it’s not enough to recognize diversity; we must draw on it, too.
Here in Wisconsin, we’re doing great things, and as I welcome you here today, I’d like to tell you a little about a state that I’m incredibly proud of.
We’ve had many firsts here lately. This past January, Milwaukee sent Wisconsin’s first African-American and one of our nation’s strongest voices to the US Congress – Gwen Moore. Last year, I was proud to name the first African-American justice on our state’s Supreme Court, Louis Butler. And I’ve appointed the most diverse cabinet in Wisconsin history, including the first African-American Secretaries of Revenue, Commerce, and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.
I didn’t go out looking for diversity. I went out looking for talent. And it’s no accident that men and women of exceptional ability also reflect the diversity of this great state.
From our state’s cabinet to the Supreme Court to the U.S. Congress, Wisconsin is determined to engage the talents of the best and brightest. But that commitment doesn’t stop at high offices. We are drawing on the expertise and experiences of scientists, teachers, businesspeople, and entrepreneurs of every background. Because, as President Clinton said, “we can’t afford to waste a single person.”
We’ve gotten minority contractors – 25% – involved in the big interchange project here in Milwaukee. We’ve awarded $23 million in statewide Tax Credits that will create new jobs and allow us to fund business expansion in areas with high unemployment. And we’re forming public-private partnerships to revamp whole neighborhoods – like the North Avenue project not too far from here – and turn them into safe, thriving business and residential areas.
I met someone who’s helping in that North Avenue effort – Marie Gordon – a few months ago. She has the only black-owned gas station in the city.
I asked Marie if the rising gas prices have hit her hard, and she told me no, they haven’t, because she has loyal customers.
I don’t doubt that Marie has some loyal customers, but I suspect that it has more to do with being a good businesswoman. And I suspect that if we continue to expand opportunities to people like Marie, they’ll do well too. And so will our economy.
Here in Wisconsin, we recognize that it’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s the smart thing to do. It makes good social sense, and it makes good economic sense. And with this approach, since I’ve become Governor, we’ve created 100,000 new jobs in Wisconsin.
Despite the gains we’ve made, we’re not unlike other places across the country. Everyday in Milwaukee and other places in Wisconsin, we struggle with the same issues you’re here to address:
…getting teachers and books into schools, and drugs and guns out of them;
…getting prison populations down, and average incomes up;
…getting a Federal government that’ll stand up for seniors, and against the drug companies;
…and an economy where everyone has a chance to succeed.
Until kids across this country are free from poverty…until every neighborhood is free from crime…until every person is free from the worry of health care… until we, as a nation, are free from segregated neighborhoods and discrimination…and until opportunity is truly equal for everyone, we can not – and will not – declare victory.
Now, we must work together as never before. We have the opportunity to define the true conscience of our nation. We must speak loudly. We must speak clearly. And we must continue to be aggressive for what is right.
We know that there are challenges ahead. But we also know that we will overcome them, because history moves not only in the direction of justice…but of conscience, too.
Thank you, and have a successful, productive convention.