Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative To the United Nations, On Receiving a Women of Power Award From the National Urban League At its Centennial Conference, Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Thank you. Michelle Miller, thank you so much for that warm introduction.
I’m delighted to be here with you all today. It’s an honor to receive this award from such a tremendous organization, and it’s a particular honor to get it in your hundredth year. I’m glad to be in such good company with all these other powerful women, including Secretary Solis and all my fellow honorees.
I want to thank, so much, Marc Morial and all of the National Urban League’s leadership and staff. But I also want to thank all of you—everyone who has worked so hard and so well to make the National Urban League a great American institution. Ever since 1910, this organization has been at the vanguard of the civil rights movement. You’ve pressed our country to live up to its founding ideals. You’ve refused to back off, to be quiet, to live with inequalities that rip our social fabric and tear our hearts. You’ve pressed us all to do better, to secure the full blessings of liberty, and to fulfill America’s founding promise of equality. And in doing so, you’ve helped to heal our cities, make our union more perfect, and give hope to children living in conditions that the world’s most prosperous nation should never tolerate. Thank you so much for all you do.
You’ve heard during this conference from several of my Cabinet colleagues and of course from the President of the United States. We’ve been working together to restore American leadership in the world, including at the United Nations, and to strengthen American security in our increasingly interconnected world. We face a broad, complex array of security challenges, including a new generation of transnational threats that pay no heed to borders: terrorism, nuclear proliferation, pandemic disease, climate change, genocide, and more. These are global challenges to which we must forge global responses. So just as America helped determine the course of the 20th century, we are now building the sources of American strength and influence to shape an international order that can overcome the challenges of the 21st
At the center of our efforts is a commitment to renew our economy, which serves as the wellspring of American power. So we have also laid what the President calls “a New Foundation” for recovery and prosperity. This means working with small and minority businesses so they can participate fully in our economic recovery. It means the historic Affordable Care Act, which makes health care far more accessible to millions of previously uninsured people and contains important provisions to help our communities most in need. It means, as the President said here Thursday, giving the highest-quality education possible to all of our children—building better schools, recruiting quality teachers, demanding the highest standards, and embracing innovations that get results. It means working to ensure that neighborhoods remain intact and that foreclosure is an absolute last resort for financial institutions. And it means defending civil rights and civil liberties as we continue to remove barriers to hope and opportunity for all Americans.
Within President Obama’s first 100 days, we passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provided tax cuts to 95 percent of Americans, and extended support to those in the worst financial distress, and saved or created millions, millions
of jobs. After the irresponsible practices of Wall Street firms brought our economy to the brink of collapse, the new Wall Street Reform law puts in place the strongest consumer protections in our nation’s history and guards vulnerable communities from predatory lending practices. With these and many other crucial efforts, we are seeing real results on the road to full recovery—a recovery that brings all of us along. President Obama and his Administration refuse to stand by and watch a generation of wealth and gains for African Americans and other Americans get wiped out. That’s not what this country’s about. Let’s not allow anyone to pretend that it is.
We’re still driven by a shared belief that’s as old as our republic: the belief that all people have equal worth, equal consequence, and equal rights. You all know that we still have many miles to go to make that promise fully manifest. But the journey toward full equality is a vital part of the great American journey. Yes, we have still got a long way to go. But we’ve come a vast distance since this great organization was founded. And we will all travel even farther together during this organization’s next hundred years.
Congratulations, God bless you, and thank you so much for this honor.