Coleman's remarks at Casey event

William T. Coleman

I hope Citizenhunters will allow me to be a proud granddaughter for a moment. I wanted to share the remarks my Grandad, William T. Coleman Jr., delivered (they're after the jump) at a wonderful event that the great Senator from PA Bob Casey hosted in honor of his legacy to celebrate African American History month. 

Casey's remarks in the Senate were beautiful and heartfelt and they are on the Congressional record and you can also view them along with a video at Casey's website.  This is the second year the Senator has hosted this event and I was deeply touched that he saw fit to honor one of my greatest heroes as the American Hero he is. 

Senator Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania also made some lovely remarks and those remarks are on the record. I just wanted to take the time today to thank Senator Casey publicly for his longstanding commitment to the people of Pennsylvania and to the many values I hold dear.  My family and I are honored by his service and were honored by  selection of Wililam T. Coleman Jr. for this tremendous honor.

Monday, 23 February, 2009

May these remarks please Senator Casey and Senator Specter and all other guests, including my family.  My mother’s family were Mason, my wife’s family were Hardin.  The Masons produced a gentleman who became an Episcopal Bishop, operated the Underground Railroad out of St. Louis, Missouri, and stormed Lookout Mountain under the leadership of a Northern General.  My wife’s father, a medical doctor in New Orleans, in 1952 was a Member of the Louisiana Delegation to the 1952 Republican Convention and he and that later great American Jurist, John Wisdom, led the Louisiana delegation from Taft to Eisenhower into the 1952 Republican Convention.

I must mention some great Americans who helped me, and many of you, gain a wonderful and exciting life.  These people are high on my list or any list:  Mr. Justice Thurgood Marshall, Charles Houston and William H. Hastie.  Relatives thereof are here and I hope they will raise their hands.  Of course when at the Harvard Law School I had great professors who helped greatly, Dean Ervin Griswold, Paul Freund, Henry Hart and others.  I met my first day there Elliot Lee Richardson and Harold Osterweil, who became dear friends, one survived Normandy, the other one didn’t.  Elliot’s uncle, Henry L. Shadduck, was a great help.  It is how I got to know Louis Weiss and Lloyd K. Garrison, after I had clerked a year for Mr. Justice Felix Frankfurter.  After my clerkship with Judge Herbert F Goodrich of the Third Circuit who really made the way for the American Law Institute to play an important part in my life including opening the way to Richardson Dilworth and other partners in my firm in Philadelphia.  Finally, a special thanks to the Presidents of the United States, starting with President Harry Truman, with special emphasis on President Ford.

Being born just after World War I was affected by all events thereafter although all I remember of the great depression of the late thirties is that I was the only boy on the two blocks of Earlham Terrace in Germantown that never got a bicycle as my parents said they put the money in a savings bank to assure I would go to college.  My generation watched the threat of Nazi Germany, fought in World War II, endured the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, watched classmates become Navy ensigns in 90 days or fighter pilots in 9 months.  After the war we admired how Dean Atchison and General Marshall saved European economies with the Marshall Plan, saw a great Supreme Court decide the Brown case, and watched Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and others become stars in baseball and Marion Anderson sing in Washington, DC., watched American Express be lead by our close friend Ken Chenault, and Ralph Bunch be the only American ever to settle an issue between the Palestinians and Israelis, though we later witnessed, and he often reminds us, Henry Kissinger get India and Egypt to recognize Israel as a nation state.

But today we face new challenges.

1)  Last year we watched the United States and a few other wealthy Western nations transfer over $700 billion dollars to Saudi Arabia, yet we had no procedure to induce them to put much of that back into our economic system;

2) This Nation now faces a situation where we produce only 20% of the food we eat each year.  Perhaps we need another George Washington Carver.  For while getting his Bachelor’s degree at Iowa State College in Ames, Iowa, he studied plant hybridization, a new science at that time.  He recognized that after four years of growing cotton, the soil became inadequate to grow the fifth crop of cotton.  He found that peanuts, soybeans and cowpeas could each be planted to increase fertility of such land.  He also planted cowpeas to add nitrogen.  The sweet potato crop planted the second year yielded more than six times the usual harvest.  The third year, Carver planted cotton again and got a record-setting yield, thus he showed how crop rotations worked and thus, indeed, saved the South.  Now, of course, the South makes many foreign automobiles.

This history is turned to Pennsylvania which I understood that it these days to be the Nation’s greatest producer of agriculture.

3)  Our scientists must develop new products.  Please reread the history of Tom Watson and how he developed the early breakthroughs of IBM.  Today, IBM is one of the few American companies that has held its position as a world leading company.  You had others in the Second World War.  Please look up a guy named Dr. Charles Drew.  If your father or son was wounded in World War II in a way which drew blood, Dr. Charles Drew’s development of blood plasma probably saved his life.

4)  I also recommend that you read or re-read Chapter 8 of Alan Greenspan’s latest book, “The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World.”  He says the industrial progress of the United States depends upon an increase in productivity of at least 6% per year and only 3% of such comes from the new breakthroughs of superiorly trained scientists with PhD degrees.  The rest comes from the workforce on the floor who have had superior high school training.

5)  Of course we must build new highways and transit and freight rail systems but please build modern lines.  Our high speed trains don’t exceed 120 miles per hour; in France, Great Britain, Germany & Russia as well as China and Japan they exceed 250 miles per hour.  These nations who don’t build rapid mass transit through crowded cities by el, but instead they use the modern technology of subway.  It is called the “Large Bore Tunnel Method.”  We are doing that today in New York and I believe Florida.

I close with thanks and four words of wisdom, two by my father and two by Mr. Justice Felix Frankfurter.

First, the justification for telling about two quotes of my father.  One Sunday years ago I was at Dean Acheson’s farm in Maryland.  Mr. Chief Justice Earl Warren and others were there.  Mr. Acheson told the story how the only reason he did not get kicked out of Harvard Law School was Cole Porter accepting the blame for the wrong Acheson had committed.  Dean Acheson, of course, went on to both a great law firm, Covington, Burling & Acheson and afterwards, as a great Secretary of State.   Cole Porter became a star on Broadway.

My father was a director of a Boys Club and a Summer camp and often said “There was no such thing as a bad boy, but only a good boy doing something wrong” and “a boy is a diamond in the rough; add character and Society will have a jewel.”

I restrain from giving you names of some very successful men saved by Dad’s advice.

The last day that Elliot Richardson and I sat with Mr. Justice Frankfurter in his office he advised “The great lawyer, or the great public official, has that rare ability to quickly become expert in what is relevant.”  Earlier in a written opinion, Mr. Justice Frankfurter wrote: “the mere fact that wisdom seldom comes is no reason to reject it merely because it comes late.”