Submitted to the AFRO by Raynard Jackson
Former British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill once said, “To every man there comes a time in his life when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a great and mighty work; unique to him and fitted to his talents; what a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the moment that could be his finest hour.”
This was my first thought when my phone started to ring last Friday night around 11:15 east coast time as I heard about the death of former president, George Herbert Walker Bush, affectionately called by me, “Ole man Bush.”
How do you explain the intersection of my life with the likes of someone like Bush’s? I, from the hood of St. Louis, he from a wealthy Connecticut family; I, part of the baby boom generation, he, from the World War ll generation; I, a graduate of Oral Roberts University, he, a Yale University graduate.
As if this connection wasn’t improbable enough, what are the odds of us being connected by Churchill’s words?
Bush was tapped on the shoulder when he, against his father’s wishes, joined the military right out of high school; making him the youngest navy aviator in our country’s history. His plane was shot down and he was rescued by his fellow soldiers.
He was tapped on the shoulder again upon his completion of his studies at Yale University; and chose to give up the creature comforts of his wealthy upbringing and struck out on his own in the oil business in Odessa, Texas.
Bush was tapped on the shoulder many more times in his life; when he created a Yale chapter of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), gave royalties from his book to the UNCF, and had his brother Jonathan serve as chairman of the board of the UNCF in the early nineties; envoy to China, head of the CIA, chairman of the Republican National Committee, vice president, and president.
I was tapped on the shoulder in September of 1987 when the Bush family asked me to chair the then vice-president’s upcoming campaign for president in St. Louis. I had the great fortune to sit at the feet of the likes of President Bush, former Secretary of State James Baker, former Commerce Secretary, Robert Mosbacher, to name a few. Now, Baker is the only one left for us to learn from.
They were my introduction to politics and they instilled in me at every chance the value relationships.
President Bush is the reason I am in D.C. today.
But, I want to focus on the Bush family’s relationship with the UNCF and HBCUs.
Most of the public has no idea that the Bush family has been involved with the UNCF and HBCUs for well over fifty years. Every Black college president will admit that their schools tend to do better when Republicans are in power versus when Democrats are in power. They are too afraid to admit it publicly.
Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bush, both had a very close personal relationship with former Howard University (“the real HU”) president James Cheek.
Cheek was a life long Republican and used his party ties to handsomely benefit his school.
In his thirty plus years leading Howard University (1968-1989), the school’s budget went from $43 million to over $417 million; and the school’s federal appropriation went from $29 million to over $178 million annually.
And it wasn’t just president Bush either. His wife, Barbara, served on the Morehouse School of Medicine’s board of directors from 1983-1989.
The Bush’s also established the George H.W. and Barbara P. Bush Endowed Professorship at Morehouse School of Medicine, which focused on neuroscience research and is still going very strong to this day.
As a matter of fact, Dr. Louis W. Sullivan served as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services during Bush’s term as president; making him the first “Morehouse Man” to serve in a U.S. president’s cabinet.
Continuing Churchill’s words, what a tragedy that HU (“horrible university”) has not issued any formal statement of condolences to the Bush family, despite the years of support from this family. What a tragedy that most of Howard’s alumni have no idea of what the Republican Party and Bush specifically has done for the school.
You would think that the death of a great president and a great man would be enough for liberal bastions like HU to remove their blinders at least temporarily to honor our fallen president.
But, unfortunately, this moment has found Howard University “unprepared and unqualified for the moment that could have been it’s finest hour.”
Raynard Jackson is founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future (BAFBF), a federally registered 527 Super PAC established to get more Blacks involved in the Republican Party. BAFBF focuses on the Black entrepreneur. For more information about BAFBF, visit www.bafbf.org. You can follow Raynard on Twitter @Raynard1223.
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