Deputy Secretary Bernardi's Remarks
at the Brooke-Mondale Auditorium Dedication


Thank you and good morning. Thank you all for coming. I especially want to welcome our guests from the housing community.

We gather to honor two legislative giants, courageous lawmakers who fought for fairness and justice in housing. I speak of Walter Mondale and Edward Brooke. They came from different parts of the country. They represented different political parties. And they had different backgrounds, different skin color, and different ethnicity. But they were united in courage, in vision, and in commitment to fair housing.

They were motivated by principle, by a reading of the Constitution that was inclusive, that extended constitutional protections to all Americans. Together, they made history by co-sponsoring a law that ended discrimination and racism in housing.

And all Americans benefit from their legislative achievement.

By naming this auditorium for these two senators, we recall their vision and spirit in this room. It is an honor to have their names associated with the work of our department.

Let me tell you about them. Walter F. Mondale was born in Ceylon, Minnesota on January 5th, 1928. He attended the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1951. While in college he managed the first successful senate campaign of his hero and friend, Hubert H. Humphrey. He went into military service, rising to the rank of corporal in the United States Army. He then went back to the University of Minnesota, graduating with a law degree in 1956, having served on the law review and as a clerk in the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Mondale then practiced law for several years. In 1960, he was appointed Attorney General of Minnesota and served in that office until 1964, when he was asked to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate when Humphrey was elected Vice President. He then spent twelve years in the Senate, where he served with great distinction.

In 1976 he was elected Vice President of the United States. He represented our nation for four years, traveling extensively.. on behalf of our nation.

In 1980 he returned to private life, but became the Democratic Party's nominee to challenge Ronald Reagan for the Presidency.

In 1993, he became United States Ambassador to Japan, serving for four years.

He then returned home to Minnesota and rejoined the law firm of Dorsey and Whitney as a partner.

Edward Brooke was born on October 26, 1919 here in Washington, D.C. After graduating from Howard University in 1941, he joined the Army's segregated 366th Infantry Regiment and saw combat in Italy. After the war, he earned a law degree from Boston University School of Law in 1948. He then practiced the law for many years.

In 1961 he became the chairman of the Finance Commission of Boston. One year later he was elected Attorney General of Massachusetts and re-elected in 1964. (so both of the Senators also were state's attorney generals) In 1967 he was elected to the United States Senate, the first African American elected to the Senate since Reconstruction. He served with distinction for twelve years.

After leaving the Senate, he practiced law in Washington, D.C. and in the 1980s served on the President's Commission on Housing. In 1996 he became chairman of the board of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. In 2004, Senator Brooke was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, given to those who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

Senator Brooke has recently published his autobiography. It is titled "Bridging the Divide." In it he describes the importance of the "Fair Housing Act." Let me read a passage to you.

"I thought that open housing could help break education and employment barriers and show that the ghetto was not an immutable institution in America....To me, the issue of open housing went beyond politics and asked white America to cast off prejudice, avarice and fear, and to embrace justice for all." (p. 175.)

That is a good description of the value of the law. Indeed, it provides "equal justice for all."

Because this department is committed to that vision, and works every day to make that vision a reality in America, we come here today to dedicate this auditorium.

Harry Carey has been asked to give us an historical perspective. Let me ask him to come to the podium now. Again, I want to thank you all for coming. This is a day to remember, a landmark in the department as we honor two constitutional pioneers.

Thank you.


Content Archived: February 1, 2012