Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Safeco Scholarship Fund Event
July 13, 2004
Good evening. I am really thrilled to be here in support of this exciting event!
I want to begin by thanking every one for being here tonight. And thank you to Safeco for your commitment to the Diversity Scholars Program. Your commitment obviously benefits the scholarship recipients. But it also benefits the University of Washington, all of our communities and our entire state.
I am a graduate of Franklin High School, and a product of Seattle’s inner city schools. As a student of color, I learned early on that I was treated differently because of my culture and race.
One memory really sticks with me. I had a third grade teacher who went around the classroom almost every morning, asking us what we ate for breakfast. When we Asian American kids answered, "fish and rice," we received a sharp, stinging slap on the wrists.
African American kids got slapped if they had grits. Even Italian kids got slapped for having a sip of cappuccino.
We were slapped for being "Un-American.”
But I had people who cared about me. People who believed in me. And I had opportunities.
As I was growing up, my parents taught me the value and power of education. That education makes dreams possible. And they instilled in me a passion for learning. They gave me love and support and encouragement.
They wanted to be sure I went to college.
My parents were not affluent. But I had high school counselors who told me about all kinds of financial aid. So, thanks to financial aid, scholarships and part-time work, I was able to attend college. I was able to choose my destiny and realize my dreams.
And that is what the Diversity Scholarships provide. This program says to aspiring minority students: We believe in you. You deserve the same opportunities as every other student. We will help you and stand behind you.
And with these Diversity Scholarships, which are for four years, students can be assured that when they begin their U.W. career, they can finish and won’t have to worry about money half way through!
We are all here tonight because we recognize the power of education. And we share another, equally important conviction. We understand that diversity is our state’s greatest strength. Diversity enhances the education experience, and enriches our communities and experiences in life.
In our diversity lies our humanity. A society that denies its differences is doomed to division and failure. Such a society is haunted by senseless hatreds.
But an inclusive society that embraces its rich variety of people, cultures, and religions reaches for the highest, best potential of its people.
We all want to live in a world without evil and without hatred. We want to live in a world that celebrates and embraces its diversity. Until we do, we must never stop working for such a world.
And that’s what these scholarships are all about. These scholarships reaffirm the very best in all of us—our faith in the virtue of diversity, our belief in the power of education, and our commitment to opportunity for all.
This is a great program. Congratulations in advance to Safeco—I am confident that you will reach the $1 million goal. And God bless every one of you for your efforts in making our state and the world a better place.