"........and I, and other [Roman] Catholic staff members filed by, knelt, and kissed the Pope's ring."

From .......... GOVERNING AMERICA - An Insider's Report

By Joseph A. Califano, Jr.

221............. CIVIL RIGHTS

..............schools while lawyers litigated. It was better to get most of what we wanted at the outset by negotiation. I looked for a dramatic agreement to demonstrate to the civil rights groups and the OCR bureaucracy that settling was not selling out.

A possibility for such a demonstration lay in the Chicago school desegregation situation. Frank Annunzio, a Chicago congressman, and Joseph Hannon, Chicago's school superintendent, wanted a truce in the twelve-year war that had been waging between HEW and Mayor Richard Daley since HEW Secretary John Gardner had tried to cut off federal funds to Chicago's shool system in 1965 on the grounds that it was segregated. I remember the day Gardner notified the city of Chicago. President Johnson was in New York to welcome Pope Paul VI to the United States and the United Nations, and he had taken Catholics on the White House staff with him.

The evening before the Pope's arrival, U.N. Ambassador Arthur Goldberg hosted a party for the President and Francis Cardinal Spellman, the powerful Catholic archbishop of New York. We had thought and debated about the protocol and politics of how Johnson should handle the Pontiff's visit. The President himself had spent hours discussing the setting for the unprecedented meeting.

The chancery behind St. Patrick's Cathedral on Madison Avenue? No, an American President should not go to [Roman] Catholic territory, especially when the constitutionality of some of the Great Society elementary and secondary education programs was being challenged as violating the First Amendment separation of church and state.

The United Nations? No, this was an American President welcoming the Pope to the United States, and too many East European, Irish, and Italian Catholics did not like the United Nations.

We finally settled for the neutral ground of the Waldorf-Astoria. There, on October 4, 1965, Lyndon Johnson became the first American President to sit down in the United States with a Roman Catholic Pope.

Earlier that day, Johnson had heard that HEW Secretary Gardner had announced his intention to cut off federal funds to Chicago's school system. Mayor Richard Daley, also in New Yolk to meet the Pope, had already called Johnson to express his angry astonishment. Johnson was extremely agitated and instructed me to have Gardner and Attorney General Katzenbach in his Oval Office on our return to Washington late that afternoon. We were going to the suite to meet the Pope, and Johnson was still talking about Chicago as we got off the elevator.

The meeting with Pope Paul VI began with great dignity and formality.

First, he and Johnson shook hands and then Johnson introduced those of us who had accompanied him. Jack Valenti, the President's secretary, Marie Fehmer, and I, and other [Roman] Catholic staff members filed by, knelt, and kissed the Pope's ring.

222 ................. GOVERNING AMERICA

Then the room cleared, with only a few of us remaining. Johnson and the Pope sat side by side. The Pope told the President how much he respected his extraordinary work in educating children, particularly poor children. The President beamed as the Pope elaborated. Then Johnson's face flushed slightly; he turned to the Pope, his enormous hands reaching out, one stopping just short of landing on the Pontiff's knee.

It was vintage Johnson. The Pope was politely puzzled during the translation. I could hardly keep from laughing; I'm sure I smiled.

When we got back to the White House, Johnson made it clear to Gardner that he would not cut off funds to Chicago without giving Daley every chance to present his case and, if necessary, desegregate the schools voluntarily.

The discussions and negotiations, begun the next day, were still dragging on when I became Secretary. They had become a source of persistent friction between the city of Chicago and HEW. If I could bring any portion of the Chicago dispute to a successful conclusion, our policy of negotiating would start to take hold.

We decided to move on the opportunity Congressman Annunzio and Superintendent Hannon presented. Annunzio had been a friend of mine for fifteen years and I knew I could trust him. The most promising approaches were teacher desegregation, to eliminate the concentration of black teachers in black schools and white teachers in white schools, and the establishment of bilingual education programs for children who spoke little or no English, programs that satisfied the Supreme Court's 1974 decision in the Lau case. There, the Court held that children who were not proficient in English had a right to public education.

The previous negotiations had been tense and even angry. The personality clashes between OCR staffers in HEW's Chicago Regional Office and the city's education hierarchy were so marked and the bitterness so deep-seated that I took our people out of direct discussions. Conrad Harper, a partner in the New York law firm of Simpson, Thatcher, and Bartlett, agreed to be our special negotiator.

I held some quiet meetings with Al Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Robert Healy, head of its Chicago local, as well as with Annunzio and Hannon. But Harper and Tatel, with help from HEW General Counsel Peter Libassi and his deputy Richard Beattie, did most of the detailed negotiating .

The negotiators agreed on a bilingual education program in which the ............


GOVERNING AMERICA - An Insider's Report

From the White House and the Cabinet

By Joseph A. Califano, Jr.

Published by Simon and Schuster 1981

ISBN 0-671-25428-6