HUBERT H. HUMPHREY IN MARBLE
Tribute to Hubert H. Humphrey
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Jimmy Carter's Tribute to Hubert H.
It follows the full text transcript of
Jimmy Carter's Dinner speech in honor of Hubert
H. Humphrey, delivered at the International Ballroom at the
Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C. - December 2, 1977.
Early this week,
my good friend Charles Kirbo came to Washington.
He said he was
getting very worried about me, that he couldn't
understand how every time he saw me, I looked
older and older and Senator Humphrey looked
younger and younger.
He said Senator Humphrey always has a smile on
his face. He said, "Jimmy, your smile is gone."
He said, "Your
hair is turning gray; his has gotten curly." I
said, "Well, the difference is that Senator
Humphrey has been here long enough in Washington
to know how to handle the political scene and I
haven't learned yet."
Last summer, just as the Senate was beginning
its long 2-month filibuster, Senator Humphrey
went back to Minnesota for a vacation. And at
the end of the vacation, when he got ready to
come back, again being very conversant with
political ways, he called me 'up and said, "Mr.
President, I'd like to come back to Washington."
I said, "Well, Senator Humphrey, we're glad to
have you." He said, "Yes, but I need a ride."
And I said, "Well,
that's fine. Maybe I could send the Vice
President out to pick you up." He said, "Well,
I've never ridden in Air Force One."
So, I went to the west coast and came back via
Minnesota and picked him up. But first I said,
"Well, why is it you want to come back?" He
said, "I think if I come back, I can get the
Congress straightened out." He said, "I
guarantee you, if you give me a ride back to
Washington, I'll have the energy package passed
in a week."
He is a man who has touched my life and that of
my family, as I'm sure he's touched almost
everyone here in a strange and very delightful
way. And I'm going to tell you just a few brief
instances that occurred, actually, long before I
had any dreams of coming to Washington myself.
The first time I heard about Senator Humphrey
was when I was in the Navy, and he made a famous
speech at the Democratic National Convention. He
was quite well known in Georgia. I don't think
anyone else has kept more Georgia politicians
from seeing the end of a Democratic convention
than Senator Humphrey has, because it got so
that every time he walked in, they walked out
and came back home.
So, in 1964, when he became the
Vice-Presidential candidate, in Georgia it
wasn't a very popular thing to be for the
Johnson-Humphrey slate. My mother, Lillian, ran
the Sumter County Johnson-Humphrey headquarters.
And I could always tell when my mother was
coming down the road, because she was in a brand
new automobile with the windows broken out, the
radio antenna tied in a knot, and the car
painted with soap.
In that campaign, Hubert and Muriel came down to
south Georgia to Moultrie for a Democratic
rally. And because of my mother's loyalty, she
was given the honor of picking up Muriel at the
airport. And Rosalynn and my mother and Muriel
and my sister Gloria went down to Moultrie to
attend the rally. Senator Humphrey made a
speech, and they had a women's reception for
Muriel. And they were riding around that south
Georgia town getting ready for the reception.
Everybody in town was very excited. And as
Muriel approached the site, she said, "Are any
black women invited to the reception?"
For a long time no one spoke, and finally my
sister said, "I don't know." She knew quite well
that they weren't. And Muriel said, "I'm not
going in." So, they stopped the car, and my
sister Gloria went inside to check and let the
hostess know that Muriel was not coming to the
reception. But in a few minutes, Gloria came
back and said, "Mrs. Humphrey, it's okay." So,
she went in and, sure enough, there were several
black ladies there at the reception. And Muriel
never knew until now that the maids just took
off their aprons for the occasion.
But that was the
first integrated reception in south Georgia,
Muriel, and you are responsible for it.
Ten or eleven years ago, when I was not in
political office at all, Senator Humphrey was
Vice President. He had been to Europe on a long,
tedious, very successful trip. And he came down
to Atlanta, Georgia, to visit in the home of a
friend named Marvin Schube. And I was invited
there to meet him, which was a great honor for
me. I have never yet met a Democratic President,
and he was the only Democratic Vice President I
had ever met. And I stood there knowing that he
was very weary because he had just returned from
Europe. But he answered the eager questions of
those Georgia friends until quite late in the
morning, about 2 o'clock. And he was very well
briefed, because when I walked in the room, he
said, "Young man, I understand that your mother
is in the Peace Corps in India."
And I said, "Yes, sir, that's right." He said,
"Well, I've been very interested in the Peace
Corps. The idea originally came from me, and
I've been proud to see it put into effect." tie
said, "Where's your mother?" And I said, "She's
near Bombay." He said, "How's she getting
along?" I said, "Well, she's quite lonely, sir.
She's been there about 6 months, and she's not
seen anybody, even the Peace Corps officials.
She's in a little town called Vikhroli."
About a month later, I got a letter from my
mother. She was in her room one evening, and the
head of the Peace Corps in India had driven up
to the little town of Vikhroli. He came in and
asked my mother if she needed anything. She
said, no, she was getting along quite well, but
she would like to go over to Bombay. He said,
"Well, can I take you in shopping, Mrs. Carter?"
She said, "Yes, I'd like that." So, they went
in, and he bought her a very fine supper and
brought her back to Vikhroli. When he got out,
he handed her a fifth of very good bourbon.
And he turned
around to get in the car to leave, and he
finally turned back to her and said, "By the
way, Miss Lillian, who in the hell are you,
And that's a true
story. It was not until later that my mother
knew who she was.
She was a friend
of Hubert Humphrey.
And, of course, the next time he crossed my path
was in 1968 when he was our nominee for
President. And all of us in this room went
through that year of tragedy together when he
was not elected to be the leader of our country.
And I think he felt then an urging to be loyal
to his President, and unfortunately, many people
were not that loyal to him. And his loss was our
Nation's even greater loss in 1968.
The next time I saw him was when I was Governor.
He came to our home in 1972. All the candidates
just happened to stop by to see me that year,
and my daughter, Amy, was about 4 years old. And
most of the ones who would come into the
mansion--she stayed away from them, having an
early aversion to politicians. But when Senator
Humphrey came in, she loved him instantly.
And I'll never forget sitting in the front
Presidential suite of the Georgia Governor's
mansion, a very beautiful room, trying to talk
to Senator Humphrey. Amy came in eating a soft
brownie, and she climbed up on his lap without
any timidity at all. In a very natural way, he
put his arm around her as though she was his own
grandchild. And I'll always remember Senator
Humphrey sitting there talking to me about
politics and about the campaign, smiling often,
with brownie all over his face. [Laughter] And
each time he frowned, brownie crumbs fell to the
floor. And Amy loved him then and has loved him
ever since. But I think she recognized in him
the qualities that have aroused the love of so
And then, of course, last year all I could hear
everywhere I went when I said, "Would you help
me become President?" almost invariably they
would say, "Well, my first preference is Hubert
Humphrey. If he doesn't run, I'll support you."
And there again, I learned on a nationwide basis
the relationship between Senator Humphrey and
the people of this country.
But I think the most deep impression I have of
my good friend Hubert Humphrey is since I've
been President. I've seen him in the Oval Office
early in the morning. I've seen him in meetings
with other congressional leaders. I've called
him on the phone when I was in trouble. I've
gotten his quiet and private and sound advice.
And I've come to recognize that all the
attributes that I love about America are
resident in him. And I'm proud to be the
President of a nation that loves a man like
Hubert Humphrey and is loved so deeply by him.
Thank you very