By Alex Lancial
Like my classmate, Jamie, I have to say I didn’t start this class with much knowledge about Hubert Humphrey. I knew he was a vice president at some point but other than that the only connection I had made was that the Humphrey Fellowship Program was named for him.
When we had our first class, Dr. Bill displayed a quote made by Humphrey that read, “The greatest gift of life is friendship and I have received it.” I thought about what powerful quote this was, and how it really shaped how I thought about the Humphrey Fellowship Program. I realized this would be a class about friendship, not just with those of from our own culture, but with people around the world.
I have to wonder what sparked the founders of the Humphrey Program to name it after him, so I started to look more deeply into his political ideologies. As a senator he supported many civil rights causes, including agrarian and labor communities during the time of the Taft-Hartley labor-management relations law and Marshall Plan and african-american communities during the 1950’s and 60’s.
In fact, Humphrey was instrumental in establishing better race relations later in the 60’s, and was instrumental in the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Also, in a time at the end of the cold war and nearing Vietnam, Humphrey acted as an internationalist during his Vice Presidency under Lyndon B. Johnson. He advocated for negotiation with the Soviets for nuclear cutbacks.
Tragically, Humphrey died in 1978, and the Hubert H. Humphrey Program was named for him the same year, a program that fosters building connections with people from different areas of the world while seeking knowledge together.
I’m glad I have the opportunity to take this class because it has allowed me to learn more about the great leaders of our world, including Hubert Humphrey. After all, it is leaders who inspire change in ourselves and shape our passions as we grow as people.
I think the quote that best sums up his life as someone who continually advocated for the rights of others is this:
“It is not what they take away from you that counts. It’s what you do with what you have left.”