Harris Wofford

Harris Wofford

Harris Wofford was born in New York City on 9th April, 1926. While at school he read Union Now, a book written by Clarence Streit, that advocated world government. As a result he established the Student Federalists organisation.

Wofford served in the United States Army Air Forces during the Second World War. After graduating from the University of Chicago (1948) and Howard University Law School (1954) he became a lawyer. Wofford was legal assistant, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1954-1958) before becoming a law professor at University of Notre Dame (1959-1960).

Wofford was an early supporter of the Civil Rights movement in the Deep South in the late 1950s and became a friend and unofficial advisor to Martin Luther King. King told Wofford that he would rather live one day as a lion than a thousand years as a lamb. In 1957 Wofford arranged for King to visit India. According to Coretta King, after this trip her husband "constantly pondered how to apply Gandhian principles in America." Wofford also helped King write Stride Toward Freedom (1958). The book described what happened during the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott and explained King's views on non-violence and direct action. The book was to have a considerable influence on the civil rights movement.

In Greensboro, North Carolina, a small group of black students read the book and decided to take action themselves. They started a student sit-in at the restaurant of their local Woolworth's store which had a policy of not serving black people. In the days that followed they were joined by other black students until they occupied all the seats in the restaurant. The students were often physically assaulted, but following the teachings of King they did not hit back.

Wofford was involved in negotiations with John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon during the 1960 Presidential Campaign. He later recalled: "He (King) was impressed and encouraged by the far-reaching Democratic civil rights platform, and preferred to use the campaign period to negotiate civil rights commitments from both candidates, but particularly from Kennedy."

After his election victory John Kennedy appointed his brother Robert F. Kennedy as Attorney General. Wofford was appointed as as his Special Assistant for Civil Rights. Wofford also served as chairman of the Subcabinet Group on Civil Rights. Soon after Kennedy was elected the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) began to organize Freedom Rides in an attempt to bring an end to segregation in transport. After three days of training in non-violent techniques, black and white volunteers sat next to each other as they travelled through the Deep South.

James Farmer, national director of CORE, and thirteen volunteers left Washington on 4th May, 1961, for Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. Governor James Patterson commented that: "The people of Alabama are so enraged that I cannot guarantee protection for this bunch of rabble-rousers." Patterson, who had been elected with the support of the Ku Klux Klan added that integration would come to Alabama only "over my dead body."

The Freedom Riders were split between two buses. They travelled in integrated seating and visited "white only" restaurants. When they reached Anniston on 14th May the Freedom Riders were attacked by men armed with clubs, bricks, iron pipes and knives. One of the buses was fire-bombed and the mob held the doors shut, intent on burning the riders to death.

The surviving bus travelled to Birmingham, Alabama. A meeting of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee decided to send reinforcements. This included John Lewis, James Zwerg, and eleven others including two white women. The volunteers realized their mission was extremely dangerous. Zwerg later recalled: "My faith was never so strong as during that time. I knew I was doing what I should be doing." Zwerg wrote a letter to his parents that stated that he would probably be dead by the time they received it.

During the Freedom Riders campaign Robert Kennedy was phoning Jim Eastland “seven or eight or twelve times each day, about what was going to happen when they got to Mississippi and what needed to be done. That was finally decided was that there wouldn’t be any violence: as they came over the border, they’d lock them all up.” When they were arrested Kennedy issued a statement as Attorney General criticizing the activities of the Freedom Riders.

Kennedy sent John Seigenthaler to negotiate with Governor James Patterson of Alabama. Harris Wofford, later pointed out: "Seigenthaler arrived in time to escort the first group of wounded and shaken riders from the bus terminal to the airport, and flew with them to safety in New Orleans." The Freedom Riders now traveled onto Montgomery. One of the passengers, James Zwerg, later recalled: "As we were going from Birmingham to Montgomery, we'd look out the windows and we were kind of overwhelmed with the show of force - police cars with sub-machine guns attached to the backseats, planes going overhead... We had a real entourage accompanying us. Then, as we hit the city limits, it all just disappeared. As we pulled into the bus station a squad car pulled out - a police squad car. The police later said they knew nothing about our coming, and they did not arrive until after 20 minutes of beatings had taken place. Later we discovered that the instigator of the violence was a police sergeant who took a day off and was a member of the Klan. They knew we were coming. It was a set-up."

The passangers were attacked by a large mob. They were dragged from the bus and beaten by men with baseball bats and lead piping. Taylor Branch, the author of Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (1988) wrote: "One of the men grabbed Zwerg's suitcase and smashed him in the face with it. Others slugged him to the ground, and when he was dazed beyond resistance, one man pinned Zwerg's head between his knees so that the others could take turns hitting him. As they steadily knocked out his teeth, and his face and chest were streaming blood, a few adults on the perimeter put their children on their shoulders to view the carnage." Zwerg later argued: "There was noting particularly heroic in what I did. If you want to talk about heroism, consider the black man who probably saved my life. This man in coveralls, just off of work, happened to walk by as my beating was going on and said 'Stop beating that kid. If you want to beat someone, beat me.' And they did. He was still unconscious when I left the hospital. I don't know if he lived or died."

Some of the Freedom Riders, including seven women, ran for safety. The women approached an African-American taxicab driver and asked him to take them to the First Baptist Church. However, he was unwilling to violate Jim Crow restrictions by taking any white women. He agreed to take the five African-Americans, but the two white women, Susan Wilbur and Susan Hermann, were left on the curb. They were then attacked by the white mob.

John Seigenthaler, who was driving past, stopped and got the two women in his car. According to Raymond Arsenault, the author of Freedom Riders (2006): "Suddenly, two rough-looking men dressed in overalls blocked his path to the car door, demanding to know who the hell he was. Seigenthaler replied that he was a federal agent and that they had better not challenge his authority. Before he could say any more, a third man struck him in the back of the head with a pipe. Unconscious, he fell to the pavement, where he was kicked in the ribs by other members of the mob. Pushed under the rear bumper of the car, his battered and motionless body remained there until discovered by a reporter twenty-five minutes later."

Harris Wofford, pointed out: "Seigenthaler went to the defense of a girl being beaten and was clubbed to the ground; he was kicked while he lay there unconscious for nearly half an hour. Again FBI agents present did nothing, except take notes." Robert F. Kennedy later reported: "I talked to John Seigenthaler in the hospital and said that I thought it was very helpful for the Negro vote, and that I appreciated what he had done."

The Ku Klux Klan hoped that this violent treatment would stop other young people from taking part in freedom rides. However, over the next six months over a thousand people took part in freedom rides. With the local authorities unwilling to protect these people, President John F. Kennedy sent Byron White and 500 federal marshals from the North to do the job.

Robert Kennedy petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to draft regulations to end racial segregation in bus terminals. The ICC was reluctant but in September 1961 it issued the necessary orders and it went into effect on 1st November. However, James Lawson, one of the Freedom Riders, argued: "We must recognize that we are merely in the prelude to revolution, the beginning, not the end, not even the middle. I do not wish to minimize the gains we have made thus far. But it would be well to recognize that we have been receiving concessions, not real changes. The sit-ins won concessions, not structural changes; the Freedom Rides won great concessions, but not real change."

Robert Kennedy admitted to Anthony Lewis that he had come to the conclusion that Martin Luther King was closely associated with members of the American Communist Party and he asked J. Edgar Hoover “to make an intensive investigation of him, to see who his companions were and also to see what other activities he was involved in… They made that intensive investigation, and I gave them also permission to put a tap on his phone.”

Hoover reported to Kennedy that Wofford was a “Marxist” and that he was very close to Stanley Levison, who was a “secret member of the Executive Committee of the Communist Party”. Hoover informed King that Levison, who was a legal adviser to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was a member of Communist Party. However, when King refused to dismiss Levison, the Kennedys became convinced that King was himself a communist.

John F. Kennedy agreed to move Harris Wofford in April 1962. Robert F. Kennedy told Anthony Lewis: “Harris Wofford was very emotionally involved in all these matters and was rather in some areas a slight madman. I didn’t want to have someone in the Civil Rights Division who was dealing not from fact but was dealing from emotion… I wanted advice and ideas from somebody who had the same interests and motivation that I did.” Wofford became the Peace Corps Special Representative for Africa. Later he was appointed as Associate Director of the Peace Corps.

Wofford also served as president of the College at Old Westbury (1966-1970) and Bryn Mawr College (1970-1978). In 1980 he published Of Kennedys and Kings. The book provides an insiders view of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, McGeorge Bundy, Dean Rusk, Robert S. McNamara, Theodore Sorenson and other leading political figures in the 1960s.

A member of the Democratic Party, Wofford was Pennsylvania secretary of labor and industry (1987-1991). On 4th April, 1991, Pennsylvania's U.S. Senator, John Heinz, died in an aviation accident leaving his seat in the U.S. Senate open. In the special election held in November 1991, Wofford defeated Dick Thornburgh. The following year he was considered for the vice presidential nomination, although Bill Clinton ultimately chose Al Gore.

Wofford narrowly lost his 1994 bid for re-election to Rick Santorum, 49%-47%. His support for a federal ban on semi-automatic firearms also cost him significant support throughout the state. In October 1995 he was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service. A post he held to January 2001.

Harris Wofford died on 21st January, 2019.

From the findings of the Senate committee, we could begin to understand the burden of knowledge - even of guilt - that Robert Kennedy was carrying in the last years of his life. Together with the findings of the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1979, these facts can account for the grief beyond ordinary grief with which Robert Kennedy wrestled for long months and years. They do not prove that John Kennedy was killed as a result of a conspiracy, but they do suggest that it was not a tragedy without reason.

Robert Kennedy must have considered the story those facts told to be worse than the most terrible fiction. Adding to his burden was the obligation he felt to keep all the key facts secret from most, if not all, of his family and friends, and to try to withhold them forever from the people of this country and the world. Those secrets provided motives for Castro, or the Mafia, or the ClA's Cuban brigade, or some people in the CIA itself to have conspired to kill the President, yet to preserve the good name of John Kennedy and of the government of the United States they had to be kept from the Warren Commission and from the eyes of history. Also weighing on Robert Kennedy's mind must have been the risks of blackmail against the government and the family of the murdered President which threatened to make a special hostage of the Attorney General.

From the reconstruction of the record made possible by the Senate and House reports, and from everything we know about the character of Robert Kennedy, I believe that the shock of these discoveries and his realization of what violence, crime, and secret conspiracies can lead to were significant factors in his transformation. Thus, in order to understand Robert Kennedy and his times, the truth about these stories must be sorted out and the painful facts faced. That is what I believe Robert Kennedy did.

In 1967, when Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson wrote a column reporting that the CIA may have conspired with the Mafia to murder Castro and that "Bobby, eager to avenge the Bay of Pigs fiasco, played a key role in the planning," Kennedy told his aides, "I didn't start it. I stopped it." The record available to the public, however, is not so clear.

The Attorney General certainly didn't start it, and before the Bay of Pigs he apparently had little to do with the CIA or Cuba. But in the aftermath of the invasion, he became the President's representative in Operation Mongoose, the ClA-led, interdepartmental secret campaign against Castro. He persuaded his brother to issue a top-secret order "to use our available assets... to help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime." In January 1962, Robert Kennedy assembled the Mongoose planners at the Justice Department and said that the operation had "top priority"; he urged that "no time, money, effort - or manpower... be spared." How could he be sure that his pressure had not encouraged the CIA to reactivate or intensify its assassination efforts?

His involvement may have gone deeper. At least one of those familiar with his role in Operation Mongoose thinks that his fascination with violent counter-insurgency and his frustration with Castro would have invited the assassination planners to make him privy to their plots (even as McCone's aversion to unsavory operations may have led them to keep him in the dark). Since the cost of the various expeditions of sabotage sponsored by Mongoose was excessive, in comparison to any damage they did in Cuba, the CIA planners needed an ally. They had one in the Attorney General. A rationale for Operation Mongoose was always inadequate, according to a non-CIA participant in the planning, but it was approved because of the Attorney General's insistence. In retrospect, that official thinks Mongoose made sense only as a cover for the attempts at murder. The assassination plotters needed just such a large unchecked budget, repeated landings of sabotage teams, and secret agents.

If Robert Kennedy understood and supported this secret plan within the larger covert operation, he himself may have been the source of "terrific pressure" for the assassination. Nothing in the testimony before the Senate committee suggests that the circumlocutious and evasive leaders of the CIA would have put such direct pressure on the President. Then who did? "Terrific pressure" is what anyone, including his brother the President, would have felt if he tried to resist a course strongly advocated by the Attorney General.

Harris Wofford, a Democratic senator from Pennsylvania, university president and lifelong crusader for civil rights who made a crucial contribution to John F. Kennedy’s slender victory in the 1960 presidential contest, died Jan. 21 at a hospital in Washington. He was 92.

The cause was complications from a fall, said his son, Daniel Wofford.

The scion of a wealthy business family, Wofford attracted national media attention as a teenager during World War II. He helped launch the Student Federalists group, an organization that sought to unite the world's democracies in a battle against fascism and to keep the postwar peace.

Wofford became one of the first white students to graduate from the historically black Howard University law school in Washington. He was an early supporter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and marched alongside him in the civil and voting rights flashpoint of Selma, Alabama. Robert F. Kennedy, the president's brother who served as U.S. attorney general, once referred to Wofford as a "slight madman" in his zeal for advancing civil rights.

Wofford went on to a wide-ranging career, serving as John F. Kennedy's special assistant for civil rights, helping Kennedy in-law Sargent Shriver launch the Peace Corps and heading two colleges, including Bryn Mawr women's college in Pennsylvania.

In 1991, he defeated a giant of Pennsylvania politics – former Republican Gov. and U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh – to become the state’s first Democratic senator in more than 20 years.

In Philadelphia in 2008, he introduced then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., before the stirring "A More Perfect Union" speech on race relations during the presidential race that would propel Obama to the White House.

In 2016, Wofford described the merging of his personal and political ideals in an essay published in The New York Times, "Finding Love Again, This Time With a Man."

Wofford, by then a widower, described how he met Matthew Charlton, an interior designer 50 years his junior, and the two became a couple. The essay ended with Mr. Wofford’s announcement that he and Charlton would soon exchange marriage vows. They wed that year.

The courtly, professorial nonagenarian said he did not consider himself gay. "Too often, our society seeks to label people by pinning them on the wall - straight, gay or in between," he wrote. "I don't categorize myself based on the gender of those I love."

In 1991, he was Pennsylvania’s secretary of labor and industry when Democratic Gov. Robert Casey, an early political mentor, appointed him to fill the vacancy created by the death of Republican Sen. John Heinz in a plane crash. Promising balm for the frustrations of the middle class – including a proposal for national health care reform – Wofford then defeated Thornburgh with 55 percent of the vote.


Finding Love Again, This Time With a Man

AT age 70, I did not imagine that I would fall in love again and remarry. But the past 20 years have made my life a story of two great loves.

On Jan. 3, 1996, the telephone rang just before midnight, interrupting the silence of the hospital room. From the bedside of my wife, Clare, I lifted the receiver. “Please hold for the president.” Bill Clinton had heard that Clare, struck by acute leukemia, was fading. She listened and smiled but was too weak to speak.

Some hours later, I held her hands in mine as she died. During 48 years of marriage, we had spent a lifetime together.

In the cold spring that followed, I felt grateful to be alive, lucky to have many friends and family members, and glad for a challenging assignment from President Clinton involving national service. But I also wondered what it would be like living by myself for the rest of my life. I was sure I would never again feel the kind of love Clare and I shared.

Clare and I fell in love trying to save the world during World War II. I had founded a student organization to promote a postwar union of democracies to keep the peace. When I left to serve in the Army Air Corps, Clare became national president, guiding the Student Federalists as the group grew across the country.

Our romance and adventure continued for five decades. When I was running for election to the Senate in 1991, Clare gave up her job to become an all-out campaigner, helping us win in a landslide. In my narrow losing re-election campaign of 1994, astute Pennsylvanians observed that if Clare had been the candidate, she would have won.

We spent a happy half-century together with different perspectives on life. Growing up during the Depression, in which her father suffered while my family prospered, she became a skeptic while I emerged an optimist.

In 1963, we enjoyed visiting the philosopher Martin Buber in his quiet Jerusalem study. In his “Paths in Utopia,” Buber says a good and great idea will rise again when idea and fate meet in a creative hour. Hopefully, I asked him if he saw that creative hour coming soon to achieve peace for Israelis and Palestinians. Before he could answer, Clare laughed skeptically, saying, “From what I’ve seen, it will be a long time coming.”

Buber said to Clare, “You are right, that the time between creative hours can be very long, but they do come, and I hope that when one comes, your realism will not make you miss it.” And as we parted, he told me, “You are obviously a romantic, my friend, and I hope you recognize that a romantic needs a realist like Clare.”

For our three children and me, Clare was at the heart of our family. When I told her, “You’re my best friend,” she would reply, “and your best critic.” And when I said, “You’re my best critic,” she responded, “and your best friend.”

We were both about to turn 70 when she died. I assumed that I was too old to seek or expect another romance. But five years later, standing on a beach in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., I sensed a creative hour and did not want to miss it.

It was afternoon, and the tanning beachgoers faced west, toward the wall of concrete buildings lining the boulevard, to catch the sun, ignoring the beautiful sea. I swam alone in the water, attracting the attention of two bystanders near the shore. They came over to say hello, which is how I met Matthew Charlton.

As we talked, I was struck by Matthew’s inquisitive and thoughtful manner and his charm. I knew he was somebody I would enjoy getting to know. We were decades apart in age with far different professional interests, yet we clicked.

I admired Matthew’s adventurous 25-year-old spirit. When he told me that I was “young at heart,” I liked the idea, until I saw a picture of him on a snowboard upside down executing a daring back flip. The Jackson Hole newspaper carried the caption, “Charlton landed the jump without mishap.”

We took trips around the country and later to Europe together, becoming great friends. We both felt the immediate spark, and as time went on, we realized that our bond had grown into love. Other than with Clare, I had never felt love blossom this way before.

It was three years before I got the nerve to tell my sons and daughter about Matthew. I brought a scrapbook of photographs, showing Matthew and me on our travels, to a large family wedding. It was not the direct discussion the subject deserved. Yet over time my children have welcomed Matthew as a member of the family, while Matthew’s parents have accepted me warmly.

To some, our bond is entirely natural, to others it comes as a strange surprise, but most soon see the strength of our feelings and our devotion to each other. We have now been together for 15 years.

Too often, our society seeks to label people by pinning them on the wall — straight, gay or in between. I don’t categorize myself based on the gender of those I love. I had a half-century of marriage with a wonderful woman, and now am lucky for a second time to have found happiness.

For a long time, I did not suspect that idea and fate might meet in my lifetime to produce same-sex marriage equality. My focus was on other issues facing our nation, especially advancing national service for all. Seeking to change something as deeply ingrained in law and public opinion as the definition of marriage seemed impossible.

I was wrong, and should not have been so pessimistic. I had seen firsthand — working and walking with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — that when the time was right, major change for civil rights came to pass in a single creative decade. It is right to expand our conception of marriage to include all Americans who love each other.

Matthew is very different from Clare. The political causes that continue to move me do not preoccupy him, nor have I turned my priorities to design, the focus of his driving talent. Still, the same force of love is at work bringing two people together.

That instinctive emotion gives me new appreciation for these words from Robert Frost:

And yet for all this help of head and brain

How happily instinctive we remain,

Our best guide upward further to the light,

Passionate preference such as love at sight.

Twice in my life, I’ve felt the pull of such passionate preference. At age 90, I am lucky to be in an era where the Supreme Court has strengthened what President Obama calls “the dignity of marriage” by recognizing that matrimony is not based on anyone’s sexual nature, choices or dreams. It is based on love.

All this is on my mind as Matthew and I prepare for our marriage ceremony. On April 30, at ages 90 and 40, we will join hands, vowing to be bound together: to have and to hold, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.


Awards

Each member of the Peace Corps family contributes to the agency’s success. The John F. Kennedy Service Award honors just a few of these individuals who go above and beyond for the Peace Corps and America every day.

President John F. Kennedy

Awarded every five years, the John F. Kennedy Service Award recognizes two current Peace Corps Volunteers, two Peace Corps staff members, one returned Peace Corps Response Volunteer, and one returned Peace Corps Volunteer for contributions beyond their duties to the agency and the nation.

Award recipients demonstrate exceptional service and leadership and further the Peace Corps mission and its three goals:

  • To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained Volunteers
  • To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served
  • To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans

2016 winners

  • Volunteer: Theresa Govert (Botswana, 2013-16)
  • Volunteer: Lauren Breland (Thailand, 2014-17)
  • Staff: Bryan Dwyer (RPCV - El Salvador, 2002-04 Staff - El Salvador, Belize, Honduras, Rwanda, 2005-16)
  • Staff: T. A. “Froggy” Chance (Jamaica, 1982-present)
  • Returned Volunteer: Dr. Brian Goff Smith (Guatemala, 2003-06)
  • Returned Volunteer: Bob Arias (Colombia, 1964-66 Peace Corps Response Panama, Paraguay, Colombia, 2009-13)

2011 winners

  • Volunteer: Robert Ferguson (Mexico, 2007–11)
  • Volunteer: Chris Fontanesi (Romania, 2007–11)
  • Staff: Maria Francisca (Frances) Asturias (Guatemala)
  • Staff: Mostafa Lamqaddam (Morocco)
  • Returned Volunteer: Kathryn Davies Clark (Sierra Leone, 1968–69 Jamaica, 1984–87)
  • Returned Volunteer: Joe Carroll Jaycox (Venezuela, 1962–1964)

2006 winners

  • Volunteer: Scott Overdyke (Panama, 2004–06)
  • Volunteer: Barbara Schlieper (Ukraine, 2003–07)
  • Staff: William Bull (various African countries)
  • Staff: Munkhjin Tsogt (Mongolia)
  • Returned Volunteer: Tony Gasbarro (Dominican Republic, 1962–64 El Salvador, 1996–98)
  • Returned Volunteer: Roland Foulkes (Ghana, 1982–84)
Franklin H. Williams and first Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver

Franklin H. Williams Award

The Franklin H. Williams Award recognizes ethnically diverse returned Peace Corps Volunteers who demonstrate a commitment to community service and the Peace Corps' Third Goal of promoting a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

This award is named for Franklin H. Williams, an early architect of the Peace Corps. He worked at the agency from its inception in 1961 to 1963 and helped Sargent Shriver—the first Peace Corps Director—promote the agency and its programs to the world.

Ambassador Williams' exceptional public service career included positions as the Peace Corps regional director for Africa, the U.S. representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and the U.S. ambassador to Ghana.

The Director's Award is awarded to an exceptional non-RPCV.

2020 winners

  • Director's Award: Dr. Helene Gayle, Chicago Community Foundation CEO
  • Dr. Sheldon Gen (Kenya, 1990-1992)
  • Ella Cheri Bennett (Dominican Republic, 1991-1993)
  • Dr. Sabrina T. Cherry (The Gambia, 2001-2003)
  • Jalina Porter (Cambodia, 2009-2011)
  • Diamond Butler (Comoros, 2015-2017)
  • Denisha Richardson (Fiji, 2015-2017)

2016 winners

  • Director's Award: Bryan Stevenson, Equal Justice Initiative Founder and President
  • Ravi N. Dutta (Namibia, 2003-05)
  • Kendrall Masten (Zambia, 2005-07)
  • Dr. Paul M. Brown (Côte d’Ivoire, 1974-76)

2014 winners

  • Director's Award: Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP CEO
  • Ferney Giraldo (Guatemala, 2008–10)
  • Gertrude Anderson (Morocco, 1987–89)
  • Hugh Williams (Sierra Leone, 1974–76)
  • Manuel Colón (Paraguay, 2010–12)
  • Emily Ellison (China, 2009–12)
  • Alexandra Escobar (China, 2012–13)
Lillian Carter

Lillian Carter Award

The Lillian Carter Award was established in 1986 in honor of former President Carter's mother, who served as a health Volunteer in India in 1966 at age 68.

This award recognizes exceptional Peace Corps Volunteers who served at age 50 or over and have continued to advance the Peace Corps' Third Goal.

The 2021 Lillian Carter Award ceremony recording and blog recap will be available shortly.

Past winners

  • Carole Anne Reid/Aziza (Moldova, 2016-18 Eswatini, 2018-20)
  • Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal, 1993-96)
  • John Campbell (Fiji, 1989-91 Botswana, 1992-94)
  • Helene Ballmann Dudley (Slovakia, 1997-99 Colombia, 1968-70)
  • Diane Gallagher (Cape Verde, 1990-92)
  • Dr. Catherine Taylor Foster (Nepal, 1996-98)
  • Shirley Maly (Uruguay, 1992-95)

“The Lillian Carter Award is a wonderful celebration of what is best about the Peace Corps—offering up some of America's best to the world, and bringing the world home to other Americans."
-
President Jimmy Carter

Harris Wofford Joint Service Award

Harris Wofford

In honor of Harris Wofford, whose contributions helped establish the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps programs, our agencies are recognizing individuals who have successfully completed both a full-time service term or its equivalent in AmeriCorps, and the Peace Corps or Peace Corps Response.

The Harris Wofford Joint Service Award, established in November 2020, recognizes and honors individuals who have served in both programs since their respective inception in service to our country.


Remembering Harris Wofford, Who Dreamed of a ‘United States of the World’

“Count no man happy until he dies,” declared Sophocles 24 long centuries ago, in the immortal final line of Oedipus Rex. The sages of ancient Greece understood that the purpose, the meaning, the verdict on a life couldn’t be rendered until after it had run its course — and perhaps not until decades or centuries later.

The obituaries in The New York Times and The Washington Post for Harris Wofford Jr., who died on January 21 at 92, focused mostly on his work as an aide to candidate and President John F. Kennedy, and then later as a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. But it may turn out, in the very long run, that his greatest legacy was what Harris told me was “his first love in the world of ideas,” and the first great cause of his life.

Because in 1942, during the darkest days of the Second World War, teenage Harris Wofford founded a nationwide youth movement which proclaimed that after the end of that war the human race could abolish war, by creating a “United States of the World.”

The 1940s Student Movement for a World Republic

I met Harris seven years ago, in January 2012. He was speaking at a small, under-the-radar Ethiopian history event in Washington D.C. (He had served in the early 1960s as the first director of Peace Corps programs in Africa.)

I approached him afterwards, told him I knew a bit about his even more remote personal history, and asked him, well, if he still believed any of that stuff. “It’s totally still how I think about the direction of history,” he replied. “And you’re the first one to ask me anything about it in maybe 25 years.”

So he invited me to come by for a visit sometime in his Foggy Bottom apartment. Soon I did. And I invited myself back many times thereafter, pretty much every two or three months for the next seven years, to interrogate him about the almost completely forgotten movement in the 1940s to bring about One World.

One night early in 1941, Harris told me, as WWII raged prior to America’s entry, he was sitting in the bathtub in his family’s home in Scarsdale, New York, simultaneously trying to complete his Latin homework and listen to Mr. District Attorney on the radio. The crime drama reached its denouement, and the radio station switched to talking heads at the Waldorf-Astoria. “Had the contraption been within reach,” he said, “I would have quickly turned the dial.”

But the captive audience of one instead was forced to listen to a panel, including New York Tribune columnist Dorothy Thompson, Nobel laureate author Thomas Mann, and future congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce, all proselytizing for something they called “A World Federal Union of Free Men.”

“Democracies must do what our 13 states did long ago,” said Luce, “unite to face a common peril, form the nucleus of a world government … and expand around the world until it becomes the United States of all mankind.” Harris later wrote that “prophets and visionary statesmen had proclaimed the idea of a Federal World Republic for centuries. … But for me the idea was born that night.”

Harris recounted this origin tale in his 1946 book It’s Up to Us: Federal World Government In Our Time — written at age 19 while he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, published by Harcourt Brace, and edited by the legendary publisher Robert Giroux. It was well told again in Gilbert Jonas’s 2001 iUniverse book One Shining Moment: A Short History of the American Student World Federalist Movement 1942-1953.

A year later Pearl Harbor had brought America into the war, and that moved 15-year-old Harris to act. One evening early in 1942 he and classmate Mary Ellen Purdy set out on their bicycles, rode around Scarsdale, knocked on doors, missed their suppers — but enlisted themselves and eight other classmates as the inaugural chapter of the “Student Federalists.”

“Those of us who would later come under Wofford’s charismatic spell,” wrote Jonas, “know full well how difficult it must have been for his peers to resist.”

Harris Wofford’s Scarsdale home became the outfit’s bustling headquarters. A perpetual teenage conclave in the living room, backyard, and kitchen was mostly tolerated by his equanimous parents. His grandmother endured misadventures like a couple of stumbling boys bursting into her bedroom while she was half dressed, because “we thought this was the supply closet.” Nevertheless, magnanimously, she began to contribute $5 per month.

And the Student Federalists began to spread far beyond the boundaries of Scarsdale. Funds were raised. Speaking tours were organized. Literature was printed. Essay contests were launched. A “Model World Constitutional Convention” was undertaken just a few weeks before D-Day. TIME magazine published a flattering article on the organization’s founder on November 20, 1944.

During one cycle the National Debate Tournament topic for all American high schools was: “RESOLVED: That a federal world government should be established.” The chancellor of the University of Chicago, Robert Maynard Hutchins, assembled a group of eminent scholars and designated them “the Committee to Frame a World Constitution.” (Harris, by then a UofC undergraduate, served as advisor and chief bottle washer for the Committee.)

It must be admitted that the Student Federalists were hardly a model of diversity. Most of the members were white, well-off, and privileged. Harris made a point of telling me this the very first time I visited him at his home.

But that same fundamental flaw was not evident when it came to gender. The Jonas book is full of photographs of young women right in the thick of things, obviously not relegated to clerical duties. The Wellesley College Student Federalist chapter alone boasted 200 members. Indeed, one of the organization’s earliest leaders was a champion high school debater from Minnesota named Clare Lindgren, who went on both to serve as third president of the Student Federalists and to marry Harris Wofford in 1948.

By 1947, the Student Federalists had enlisted several thousand members — many of them battle-tempered WWII veterans — opened ten regional offices, and established chapters on 367 high school and college campuses around the country. In February of that year, they combined with a half dozen similarly thriving world government advocacy organizations to form the “United World Federalists” (UWF).

One of the leading brokers of the merger, by all accounts, was 21-year-old Harris Wofford. That organization has remained in continuous existence ever since — small, obscure, struggling, but endeavoring to keep the flame alive — and is known today as Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS).

A Brilliant Young Man’s Thinking on a World Republic

Two years after his 1946 book, Harris wrote a sequel monograph called Road to the World Republic. The foreword was written by Stringfellow Barr, longtime president of St. John’s College in Annapolis (and founder, with Wofford’s own greatest mentor Scott Buchanan, of the Great Books Program there) — who had resigned from St. John’s to become president of a new “Foundation for World Government.”

In these two works, Harris Wofford demonstrated that he possessed more than just the personal magnetism that Gil Jonas described, but a deep and probing intellect as well.

With the new United Nations only a few months old, Harris illuminated both its impotence and undemocratic character. “We should work to develop the General Assembly into a world law-making body by delegating it real powers,” he recommended. “Assembly delegates should be elected directly by the people of the respective nations.”

He emphasized the bedrock idea that world government would not eliminate local institutions or identities. “By becoming a world citizen we maintain citizenship in our city, province, and nation, and gain a higher and more precious title. … This means a world government that is federal, with power in all fields truly international in scope but with lower levels each continuing in the fields it can govern best … Only such a federal union can protect the diversity in the world and still secure the needed unity.”

Yet at the same time it might enact and enforce standards within states as well. How? “A World Bill of Rights … should include freedom of religion, thought, speech, press, assembly, elections, and fair trials. The world government must assure these rights to all its citizens everywhere, with no prejudice to race, nationality, class, or sex.”

That first sentence is quite similar to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which came into force in 1948 — though of course without any global mechanism to enforce it. When I pointed out to Harris that his second sentence would be greeted today as politically preposterous, he immediately agreed. But the alternative, he insisted, was to resign ourselves forever to the dismal fate of women in so much of the world, and of gay people in so many homophobic nations, and of political dissidents in authoritarian countries.

He recognized that what he proposed would mean epochal historical transformation. “World federal government would be the greatest political step ever taken by man. The idea of moving from the national to the world level of citizenship is the most revolutionary proposal in history. … A whole new world would open to man once he moved from his present confining nationalism into this great, truly global civilization.”

And he called unapologetically for philanthropists to step up. “Carnegies and Nobels are needed. There must be some men and women who will leave their millions to this cause instead of to private schools, libraries, or homes for stray cats. A share in building world federation would be the greatest memorial anyone could seek.”

During our many conversations in his apartment, I found that a couple of ancient episodes moved Harris Wofford still. In It’s Up to Us, he related that one classmate would shout “Union Never” whenever passing a Student Federalist in the hallways of Scarsdale High. This, Harris told me, is what he yearned to reawaken. An active debate about whether something like a world union might actually be a desirable destination, or whether instead it’s something that would on balance do more harm than good for the human condition. He very much lamented that the topic, in both the high school hallways and the digital public squares of today, has become conspicuous only by its absence from the debates of the 21 st century.

Another was the tale he told in Road to the World Republic of Duncan Cameron, an 18-year-old boy who refused induction into the British Army, “preferring prison rather than violence in support of national interests.” But young Cameron was no pacifist. He declared his “determination never again to serve in the army of a nation-state,” but simultaneously announced “his readiness to serve in a World Police Force to enforce world law.” British authorities put him on trial for treason. Harris called it instead “loyalty to the world community.”

The Road to the World Republic

“The living owe it to those who no longer can speak,” said the great Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, “to tell their story for them.” That seems especially true when a Harris Wofford dies at a time when so many demagogues, both here and abroad, seek to divide our one humanity by race, class, gender, religion, and nation.

Every time we got together, I could tell that it meant a great deal to Harris that one person, during the twilight of his life, knew something about and asked him about and cared about his opening act on the stage of history. And he demonstrated his enduring commitment to the dream of a politically unified human race. We coauthored two articles about it for The Huffington Post and the Public Interest Report from the Federation of American Scientists. These pieces were decidedly not ghostwritten by me. We worked on them together for weeks, and at age 88 he haggled with me over every word.

We also made three joint speaking appearances together about it — at the Brearley School in Manhattan (which had maintained a thriving Student Federalist chapter seven decades earlier), at the Woman’s National Democratic Club in Washington, DC, and before the University of Chicago Alumni Club . And just about a year ago, he re-engaged with the organization he did so much to create, Citizens for Global Solutions , joining its newly reconstituting Advisory Council after I showed him the organization’s newly reconceptualized mission statement, committing to “a democratic federation of nations with the power to enact enforceable world law to abolish war, protect universal human rights, and restore and sustain our global environment.”

Nineteen-year-old Harris Wofford dedicated It’s Up To Us “To Jim, Tom, Bruce, Dwight, and all the sons of a fighting earth, who died so that democracy might live and mankind have a chance to move forward in our time to the United States of the World.” Classmates at Scarsdale High all, dispatched by their country to war but never returned. Dwight and Jim were killed in Germany, Bruce on Iwo Jima, and Tom on the USS Indianapolis — likely drowned or devoured alive by sharks in one of the most horrifying episodes of a horrible war — after delivering to Tinian Island the atomic bomb that would be detonated a week later over Hiroshima.

These young men all died in their early 20s, while their classmate Harris Wofford lived until his early 90s. And he died with the hope in his heart that the daughters and sons of our still fighting earth, today, might once again ignite a new youth movement for global citizenship and planetary patriotism and human unity. Might once again mount a campaign to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. Might produce a few more Duncan Camerons. And might generate an irresistible historical current, so that their own daughters and sons might someday be born into a united world.


About

On July 4, 1851, the future Methodist Bishop William Wightman came to a beautiful site on a high ridge overlooking the tiny courthouse village of Spartanburg, S.C. As more than 4,000 people looked on, he made the keynote address while local Masons laid the cornerstone for Wofford College. A distinguished professor and journalist as well as the chair of the college&rsquos board of trustees, Wightman stressed that the new institution would pattern itself after neither the South&rsquos then-elitist public universities nor the narrowly sectarian colleges sponsored by some denominations. Instead, he argued, &ldquoIt is impossible to conceive of greater benefits &mdash to the individual or to society &mdash than those embraced in the gift of a liberal education, combining moral principle . with the enlightened and cultivated understanding which is the product of thorough scholarship.&rdquo

Wofford later experienced both good times and hard times, but it stands more than 160 years later as one of a handful of American colleges founded before the Civil War and operating continuously and successfully on its original campus. It has offered carefully selected students a respected academic program, tempered with concern for the individual. It has respected the virtues of continuity and heritage while responding with energy, optimism and excitement to the challenges of a changing world.

Like many of America&rsquos philanthropic institutions, Wofford came about because of the vision and generosity of an individual. Benjamin Wofford was born in rural Spartanburg County on Oct. 19, 1780. Sometime during the great frontier revivals of the early 19th century, he joined the Methodist Church and served as a circuit rider (itinerant preacher) for several years. In 1807, he married Anna Todd and settled down on her family&rsquos prosperous farm on the Tyger River. From this happy but childless marriage, which ended with Anna&rsquos death in 1835, Wofford acquired the beginnings of his fortune. A year later, at the age of 56, the widower married a much younger woman from east Tennessee, Maria Barron. They moved to a home on Spartanburg&rsquos courthouse square, where he could concentrate on investments in finance and manufacturing. It was there that Benjamin Wofford died on Dec. 2, 1850, leaving a bequest of $100,000 to &ldquoestablish a college of literary, classical and scientific education to be located in my native district and to be under the control and management of the Methodist Church of my native state.&rdquo It proved to be one of the largest financial contributions made to American higher education prior to the Civil War. The trustees named in his will met at Spartanburg&rsquos Central Methodist Church and agreed that the college should be located in the village rather than out in the country and acquired the necessary land on the northern edge of the town. The college charter from the South Carolina General Assembly is dated Dec. 16, 1851.

The trustees retained one of the state&rsquos leading architects, Edward C. Jones of Charleston, to design the college&rsquos Main Building. Although landscaping plans were never fully developed in the 19th century, sketches exist to show that the early trustees envisioned a formal network of pathways, lawns and gardens that would have left an impression quite similar to the college's present National Historic District. The original structures included a president&rsquos home (demolished early in the 20th century) four faculty homes (still in use today for various purposes) and the magnificent Main Building. Known as simply as &ldquoThe College&rdquo for many years, the latter structure remains one of the nation&rsquos outstanding examples of &ldquoItalianate&rdquo or &ldquoTuscan Villa&rdquo architecture.

Construction finally began in the summer of 1852 under the supervision of Ephraim Clayton of Asheville, N.C. Records indicate that a number of enslaved persons were on the various construction teams among them were skilled carpenters who executed uniquely beautiful woodwork, including a pulpit and pews for the chapel. The college bell arrived from the Meneely Foundry in West Troy, N.Y., and, from the west tower of &ldquoOld Main,&rdquo it continues to sing out as the &ldquovoice of Wofford.&rdquo The exterior of the building today is true to the original design, but the interior has been modernized and renovated three times &mdash in the early 1900s, in the early 1960s, and in 2005-2007.

In the late summer of 1854, three faculty members and seven students took up their work. Admission was selective the prospective students had been tested on their knowledge of English, arithmetic and algebra, ancient and modern geography, and Latin and Greek (Cicero, Caesar, the Aeneid, and Xenophon&rsquos Anabasis). The college awarded its first degree in 1856 to Samuel Dibble, a future member of the United States Congress. The college had awarded some 48 more degrees by 1860, and 79 students were engaged in coursework in the 1859-60 school year.

After getting the new college off to a successful start, President William Wightman resigned in 1859 to launch yet another Methodist college, one that eventually became Birmingham-Southern in Alabama. He was succeeded by the Rev. Albert M. Shipp, a respected scholar who was immediately confronted with a devastating Civil War. Many students and young alumni, including two sons of faculty members, were killed in the war. Over the course of the war, the trustees invested their endowment funds in soon-to-be-worthless Confederate bonds, bank stocks, and other securities. (The college still has them in its archives.) The situation was quite dire, but the physical plant remained intact and the professors remained at their posts. Given the disarray of education at all levels, South Carolina Methodists saw the mission of their colleges as more important than ever if a &ldquoNew South&rdquo was to be created.

Shipp remained at the college through the Reconstruction period, departing for a position in Vanderbilt University&rsquos theology school in 1875. Tobias Hartwell, who had come to Spartanburg as an enslaved person of Shipp&rsquos, played a key role in the emerging post-emancipation African-American community. Nevertheless, Wofford&rsquos history from the end of the Civil War until the early 1900s was dominated by one man &mdash James H. Carlisle. A member of the original faculty and then the 3 rd president of the college from 1875 through 1902, he initially taught mathematics and astronomy, but his real strength was his ability to develop alumni of character, one student at a time. Three generations of graduates remembered individual visits with Carlisle in his campus home, now occupied by the dean of students. To them, he was &ldquoThe Doctor,&rdquo &ldquoWofford&rsquos spiritual endowment,&rdquo and &ldquothe most distinguished South Carolinian of his day.&rdquo

The curriculum gradually evolved during Carlisle&rsquos administration for example, he shocked everyone by delivering his first presidential commencement address in English rather than in Latin. Nevertheless, many lasting traditions of Wofford life date from his administration. Four surviving chapters of national social fraternities (Kappa Alpha, 1869 Sigma Alpha Epsilon, 1885 Pi Kappa Alpha, 1891 and Kappa Sigma, 1894) were chartered on the campus. Such organizations owned or rented houses in the Spartanburg village, because in those days, professors lived in college housing while students were expected to make their own arrangements for room and board. To meet some of their needs, two students from the North Carolina mountains, Zach and Zeb Whiteside, opened and operated Wofford&rsquos first dining hall in Main Building. Union soldiers in Spartanburg during Reconstruction apparently introduced college students to baseball, and Wofford and Furman University played South Carolina&rsquos first intercollegiate football game in December 1889. Students participated actively in literary societies, and student members held weekly debates and gave regular orations. The societies started the college&rsquos first libraries, and the library&rsquos special collections holds many of those original volumes. That same year, students from the societies organized one of the South&rsquos earliest literary magazines, The Journal. At commencements throughout the period, graduates sang the hymn &ldquoFrom All That Dwell Below the Skies&rdquo and each received a Bible signed by faculty members.

In 1895, delegates from 10 of the leading higher education institutions across the Southeast met in Atlanta to form the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The organization was conceived by Vanderbilt&rsquos Chancellor James H. Kirkland (Wofford Class of 1877), who hoped to challenge peer campuses to attain national standards of academic excellence. Delegates also came from Trinity College in Durham, N.C., which later emerged as Duke University under the presidential leadership of Wofford alumni John C. Kilgo and William Preston Few. Two young outstanding faculty members represented Wofford, A.G. &ldquoKnotty&rdquo Rembert (Class of 1884) and Henry Nelson Snyder. Perhaps it was the Wofford community&rsquos determination to meet the standards for accreditation that later inspired Snyder to turn down an appointment to the faculty at Stanford University to become Carlisle&rsquos successor as president in 1902. It was also true that Spartanburg was no longer a sleepy courthouse village &mdash it had become a major railroad &ldquohub city&rdquo and was surrounded by booming textile mills. Local civic leaders launched nearby Converse College, which combined liberal arts education for women with a nationally respected school of music. At Wofford, it no doubt seemed possible to dream bigger dreams.

The first decades of Snyder&rsquos long administration (1902-1942) were a time of tremendous progress. Main Building finally got electric lights and steam heat. Four attractive red-brick buildings were added to the campus &mdash Whitefoord Smith Library (now the Daniel Building), John B. Cleveland Science Hall, Andrews Field House, and Carlisle Hall, a large dormitory. Driveways for automobiles were laid out on campus, and rows of water oaks and elms were planted. Enrollment grew beyond 200 students, and by the midpoint of Snyder&rsquos administration, the student body consisted of more than 400 students annually. Wofford began to attract faculty members who were publishing scholarly books in their academic specialties. For example, David Duncan Wallace was the pre-eminent South Carolina historian of the day. James A. Chiles published a widely used textbook, and he and his Wofford students founded the national honorary society for German studies, Delta Phi Alpha. The &ldquoWofford Lyceum&rdquo brought William Jennings Bryan, Woodrow Wilson, and other guest speakers to the campus.

Although eight women graduated from Wofford in the classes of 1901-1904, the trustees abandoned the first attempt at coeducation. The cornerstone of residential campus life was an unwritten honor code, for decades administered with stern-but-fair paternalism by the college&rsquos dean, A. Mason DuPré. A yearbook was first published in 1904, modern student government began in 1909, and the first issue of a campus newspaper, the Old Gold & Black, appeared in 1915. World War I introduced Army officer training to the campus, and at the end of 1919, the Army established an ROTC unit, one of the first such units to be approved at an independent college. Snobbery, drinking, dancing and other alleged excesses contributed to an anti-fraternity &ldquoPhilanthropean&rdquo movement among the students, and the Greek-letter organizations were forced underground for several years. A unique society called the &ldquoSenior Order of Gnomes&rdquo apparently owed its beginnings to a desire to emphasize and protect certain &ldquoold-fashioned&rdquo values and traditions associated with the college. Both intramural and intercollegiate sports were popular, with the baseball teams achieving the most prestige. The 1909 team adopted a pit bull terrier (&ldquoJack&rdquo), and he proved to be the inspiration for a permanent mascot. Pressure from the church led to the abolition of intercollegiate football for a period as well, as many leaders though the game too violent and dangerous.

Despite the wide respect Snyder earned in national higher education and Methodist circles, progress in strengthening Wofford&rsquos endowment, which was valued at less than $1 million, was slow. College and community leaders joined in the mid-1920s on a fundraising campaign that did help increase the small endowment. The college was dependent on its annual support from the Methodist Church, which amounted to about one-fourth of the operating budget. This financial weakness became obvious when Southern farm prices collapsed in the 1920s and hard times intensified after the stock market crash of 1929. At the height of the Great Depression, some of the faculty worked without pay for seven months. Emergency economies and a special appeal to South Carolina Methodists were necessary, but by the end of the Snyder administration, the college was debt-free and its academic reputation was untarnished.

The return of financial stability made it possible for Wofford to claim a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1941, the first time such recognition had been extended to an independent college in South Carolina. Soon after this happy occasion, however, the nation plunged into World War II. Wofford graduates served in the military in large numbers, many as junior combat officers or aviators. Around 76 alumni and students died in the war. Wofford&rsquos enrollment was so drastically reduced that the Army took over the campus on Feb. 22, 1943, to offer accelerated academic instruction for Air Corps officers. The faculty and 96 remaining Wofford students did their work at Spartanburg Junior College or at Converse.

After the war, under the stimulus of the G.I. Bill of Rights, enrollment suddenly shot up to 720 during 1947-48. This figure was almost twice the reasonable capacity of Wofford&rsquos facilities, already taxed by two decades of postponed maintenance. Compounding the challenge was the fact that South Carolina Methodists deferred any capital projects or strategic planning into the mid-1950s while they tried to decide whether they should unify their colleges on a new, rural campus at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. While the state&rsquos Baptists approved such a plan at Furman University, the Methodist institutions ultimately retained their historic identities and campuses.

The only alumnus to serve as president of Wofford, Dr. Walter K. Greene &rsquo03, thus suffered through a very stressful administration (1942-1951) that today is remembered primarily as a golden age for Terrier athletics. Under the coaching of Phil Dickens, the 1948 football team set a national record with five straight ties. Wofford then won 15 straight games before losing a 1950 Cigar Bowl match with Florida State. Another celebrated achievement was a 19-14 upset of Auburn to open the 1950 season. Dickens&rsquo teams were known for skillful operation of a single wing offense similar to that used at the University of Tennessee as well as solid &ldquoWofford Gold&rdquo uniforms, whose coppery color was so close to that of contemporary footballs that it created a nationwide controversy.

Born in the years immediately following World War II, the &ldquoBaby Boomers&rdquo began moving into elementary schools in the 1950s. During the presidential administrations of Francis Pendleton Gaines (1952-1957) and Charles F. Marsh (1958-1968), the Wofford community laid the foundations to serve this much larger college population. Administration and finances needed the most immediate attention, and Gaines was fortunate to persuade Spartanburg textile executive Roger Milliken to join the board of trustees. Wofford also moved ahead with a series of important building projects that included a complete renovation of Main Building, a new science building, the beautiful Sandor Teszler Library, and the Burwell campus center. Four new residence halls built during this period gave occupants a measure of privacy and comfort. Seven fraternity lodges were built on campus to unify and improve Greek life. The new buildings and improved financial management made it possible for the college to expand its enrollment to 1,000 men.

To teach this larger student body, college officials worked hard to recruit outstanding faculty and provide better pay and benefits. Some legendary professors, such as Lewis P. Jones &rsquo38 in the history department, arrived within a few years after the war. John Q. Hill &rsquo47, a Rhodes scholar, returned to teach mathematics, and Dr. W. Raymond Leonard effectively built a modern biology program. Philip S. Covington, who served as the college&rsquos academic dean during the 1950s and 1960s, displayed a remarkable knack for looking beyond an individual&rsquos curriculum vitae to spot great teachers. The story goes that he met geologist John Harrington on an airplane flight. Covington talked Harrington into coming to Wofford even though the college had no major in his subject and no plans to add one. &ldquoDr. Rock&rdquo taught his famous bus-trip laboratories into the 1970s and changed the lives of countless students.

Despite these efforts, Wofford still was not entirely ready for the &ldquoBoomers&rdquo when they finally began arriving on campus in the 1960s. As the distinguished sociologist Wade Clark Roof &rsquo61 has said, they were (and are) &ldquoa generation of seekers&rdquo inclined to ask tough questions and unwilling to accept arbitrary authority and institutions. While students did not doubt that administrators cared deeply about their welfare, they still squawked about a long list of rules, room inspections, and twice-a-week mandatory chapel assemblies. Even at this late date, first-year students wore beanies and were &ldquoratted&rdquo by upper-class students during their first weeks on campus. As one student remembered, dean of students Frank Logan &rsquo41 &ldquocouldn&rsquot keep you from going straight to hell, but he could relentlessly harass you on your way down.&rdquo

The period from 1964 to 1976 saw four major transformations in the life of the college, and Wofford emerged from that decade of transition as a changed institution. In the early 1960s, Wofford began to confront its need to become a more inclusive community, a process that remains ongoing. After observing a challenging period of racial desegregation at flagship universities across the South, the Wofford Board of Trustees in the spring of 1964 announced that applicants for admission henceforth would be considered without regard to race. Wofford thus became one of the first independent colleges in the deep South to take such a step voluntarily. Albert W. Gray of Spartanburg was the first of several African American men admitted to Wofford after the trustees&rsquo announcement, and he enrolled in the fall of 1964. After service in Vietnam delayed his graduation until 1971, Gray later served as a member of the Board of Trustees. Douglas C. Jones enrolled in 1965 and became the first African American to earn a degree in 1969. Intentional efforts by administrators saw more African American students begin to enroll in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Although women had attended occasionally in the twentieth century under special circumstances, and during summer sessions, the college was largely known as a college for men. During the 1970-71 academic year, the college decided to admit women as day students, and four women enrolled in February 1971, with a larger number to follow in the fall of 1971. After a study on the future composition of the student body, the trustees voted to admit women as resident students beginning in the fall of 1976. By the mid-1990s, women made up more than 45 percent of the student body. From the beginning, Wofford women were high achievers, winning more than their proportional share of academic honors and exercising effective leadership in campus organizations of every kind.

The college saw more than changes in the student body during this period. The faculty approved several significant changes to the curriculum, and working jointly with the student government, the administration brought about significant changes to student life and student code of conduct policies. When President Paul Hardin III arrived on campus to begin his administration in 1968, he found few radicals and revolutionaries among the students, but he felt that major changes in residence life policies and programming were overdue. A new &ldquoCode of Student Rights and Responsibilities&rdquo guaranteed academic and political freedom for students and established a judicial process regulating campus behavior. Another committee drew up a constitution for a campus union that reorganized and sought to empower student government. Though there have been occasional embarrassments over the years, the policy of treating Wofford students as adults has proved to be healthy and wise. It has been a principle that the college steadfastly has defended, while at the same time taking steps to ensure that caring, personal attention is available to students when they need it. An effective campus ministry and service-learning program in the United Methodist tradition undergirds this commitment.

The college implemented curricular reforms to encourage faculty creativity and give students more choices. The 4-1-4 calendar and the implementation of the Interim term permitted a student to spend the month of January working on a project of special interest. The Interim became a popular feature of the Wofford experience, particularly for career-related internships, independent research or international travel. Wofford&rsquos first-year humanities seminars, pioneered in the 1970s, were copied at institutions large and small. Although a broad liberal arts core curriculum remained in place, pruning departmental requirements made it easier to double or even triple major. Students also were permitted to arrange interdisciplinary majors in the humanities or intercultural studies.

In 1972, having demonstrated his ability as a faculty member and in several administrative positions, Joab M. Lesesne Jr. succeeded Hardin as Wofford&rsquos ninth president. Lesesne oversaw much success at the college. In 1972, Wofford&rsquos endowment market value was $3.8 million in 2000, it was approximately $90 million, thanks in part to a $13 million bequest from the estate of Mrs. Charles Daniel. The downtown campus doubled in size, and new structures included the Campus Life Building with its Tony White Theater and Benjamin Johnson Arena, the $6 million Franklin W. Olin Building, the Papadopoulos Building, the Roger Milliken Science Center, and three new residence halls. The college received national recognition as a &ldquohigher education best buy&rdquo and came to be listed in most of the selective colleges guides.

Since the early 1960s, Wofford had been struggling to find an athletic identity &mdash the college&rsquos investment exceeded the norm for &ldquogood time sports,&rdquo but it was insufficient to attract the best student-athletes or improve national visibility. Aging facilities were inadequate for a program that aspired to meet the recreational, intramural and intercollegiate requirements of a larger, more diverse student body. Wofford carefully moved step-by-step from the NAIA to membership in the NCAA Division I Southern Conference. The construction of the Richardson Physical Activities Building, Gibbs Stadium and the Reeves Tennis Center allowed Spartanburg and Wofford to become the summer training camp home of the NFL&rsquos Carolina Panthers, founded and owned by Jerry Richardson &rsquo59. In the 2000s, Wofford football teams made numerous trips to the NCAA Football Championship Series Playoffs, and Wofford claimed SoCon championships in baseball, men&rsquos soccer and men&rsquos basketball. In the five years beginning in 2006-2007, Wofford won the SoCon&rsquos D.S. McAlister Sportsmanship Award three times and ranked high in its NCAA Academic Progress Rate statistics.

After he became Wofford&rsquos 10th president in 2000, Benjamin B. Dunlap, who had taught at Wofford since 1993 as Chapman Family Professor of the Humanities, completed the long-awaited restoration and technological modernization of Main Building, with special emphasis on Leonard Auditorium. Located on the first floor were the Campus Ministry Center and Mickel Chapel, with several memorials to faculty and alumni. After careful study, Wofford trustees approved a gradual plan to increase the size of the student body to about 1,600 with a full-time faculty-to-student ratio of 1 to 11. The development of the award-winning Wofford Village, with apartment-style housing to renew personal relationships among seniors helped make this growth possible. &ldquoFun Funds&rdquo also broadened social and recreational opportunities involving the entire student community. The faculty continued to enhance the core curriculum with new majors in theatre, Chinese and environmental studies, while at the same time building highly innovative opportunities for research, internships and study abroad. Additionally, the faculty created interdisciplinary programs in Latin American and Caribbean studies, African and African American studies, gender studies, and Middle Eastern and North African studies. In 2008, Dunlap signed the Presidents Climate Commitment, signaling the beginning of a new &ldquoGold, Black & Green&rdquo initiative. Its academic component was an interdisciplinary major in environmental studies that incorporated perspectives from the natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities. Students studied both on campus and at the college&rsquos Goodall Environmental Studies Center at Glendale, which has received LEED Platinum certification. Annual Open Doors surveys conducted by the Institute of International Education consistently ranked Wofford in the top 10 of all colleges and universities in the nation in the percentage of students who received academic credit overseas. Faculty earned national recognition in the development of multi-disciplinary learning communities.

The closing years of Dunlap&rsquos tenure saw some exciting new institutional developments that helped bridge the gap between educational theory and action. The Space in The Mungo Center, established in 2010, focused on building upon a liberal arts foundation to help students develop an advanced set of professional skills desired by employers and valued in the marketplace. The Center for Global and Community Engagement provided new perspectives on spiritual life and mutual understanding as well as new avenues of service to a hopeful city facing many challenges. The Center for Innovation and Learning supported the faculty with fresh ideas and added resources for the improvement of teaching. The college celebrated when in 2012, in Dunlap&rsquos final year as president, Rachel Woodlee &rsquo13 was awarded a Rhodes scholarship.

On July 1, 2013, following a national search, Dr. Nayef H. Samhat became Wofford&rsquos 11th president. Samhat quickly embraced the college&rsquos mission, and led a strategic planning process that resulted in a new strategic vision for the college, &ldquoIt&rsquos Our Wofford.&rdquo At the same time that the college unveiled the new strategic vision, Samhat announced a gift from alumnus Jerry Richardson to begin to implement a major component of the strategic vision, a new arts center. The Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts, which opened in 2017, filled a significant gap in the college&rsquos fine arts offerings. A few weeks later, Richardson announced a subsequent gift, the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium. Opening in the fall of 2017, the new indoor stadium replaced Benjamin Johnson Arena as the home of men&rsquos and women&rsquos basketball and volleyball. The men&rsquos basketball team won Southern Conference championships in 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2019, earning a spot in each of those years in the NCAA Division I tournament and bringing national attention to the college. In 2019, the team won a first-round game for the first time ever, capping one of its most successful seasons.

The relocation of basketball and theatre to the new Richardson buildings, the college was able to renovate the Campus Life Building to improve intramural, fitness, and dining options. The construction of the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center also meant that fraternity row would have to move. A new Greek Village opened in 2016 on the north side of Main Building, with houses for each fraternity, and for the first time, houses for each sorority. Additionally, reflecting the college&rsquos increased focus on diversity and inclusion, the village included a house for multicultural students. In 2019 and 2020, the college completed a renovation of the Sandor Teszler Library and prepared to open both a new residence hall and the Chandler Environmental Studies Center. The Space in The Mungo Center was renamed the Career Center and Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in 2020. The student body grew a bit more, with just over 1,700 students on campus.

If William Wightman could return to the Wofford campus today, he undoubtedly would look with pride at his Main Building, freshly restored and renovated to serve new generations of 21st century students. He surely could relate to the Wofford woman of the Class of 1991 who wrote, &ldquoIt is through Wofford that I found myself. And it is through the memories of my time there that my joys are intensified and my miseries are lessened. The majestic white building that I know as &lsquoOld Main&rsquo is the harbor for my soul, and whenever I need strength, I call upon those twin towers to give it to me.&rdquo

Standing beneath the high towers, Wightman also would perceive roots that have grown continuously deeper since the college&rsquos beginning. Methodist Bishop William H. Willimon &rsquo68 is the former dean of the chapel at Duke University and the father of two Wofford graduates. He explained it this way: &ldquoEducation is not buildings, libraries, or faculty with big books. It&rsquos people, the mystery of one person leading another as Virgil led Dante, as Athena led young Telemachus, to places never yet imagined, through thoughts impossible to think without a wise guide who has patience with the ignorance, and therefore the arrogance, of the young. Wofford and its faculty have a way to helping students believe in themselves &mdash yet never to excess. I loved it all.&rdquo

So, the words that Professor K.D. Coates wrote for the Wofford Centennial in 1954 still ring true in the third millennium: &ldquoSomehow, in spite of all the complexities, the individual student still manages to come in contact with the individual teacher. And occasionally too, as in the old days, a student goes out and by words and deeds makes a professor remembered for good intentions, and a college respected for the quality of its workmanship.&rdquo

For more about the history of Wofford College, visit the Archives.

Wofford College Alma Mater

On the city's northern border,
Reared against the sky
Proudly stands our Alma Mater
As the Years go by.

Cherished by thy sons and daughters
Memories sweet will throng
'Round our hearts, dear Alma Mater,
As we sing thy song.

May it ever be our watchword.
"Conquer and Prevail."
Hail to thee, our Alma Mater
Dear old Wofford, hail!

When we from thy halls are parted,
And life's battle's on,
Thy great spirit shall inspire us
Till eternal dawn.

Wofford shares the tune to its alma mater with many other institutions of higher education, including Cornell, Vanderbilt, Birmingham Southern and the University of North Carolina. The lyrics are credited to Dr. Keener C. Frazer '20, who went on to become a distinguished professor of international law and political science at the University of North Carolina. However, the oldest version of the alma mater in print is found in 1923 Wofford Journal, with the first line "On the city's western border." This apparently was simply an editing error, as the 1925 Bohemian has the present reference to the northern border. In fact, in those days, Wofford was on the city's outskirts.

In the 1960s, many area colleges began replacing their traditional alma maters with more original tunes. A professor and student at Wofford wrote a new alma mater in 1966. This proposal never passed the Student Government Association, as it had strong opposition from the alumni, students and The Old Gold and Black.

Singing of the alma mater remains a popular tradition at Wofford. In addition to formal occasions such as convocation and commencement, the alma mater is sung at the end of every home basketball game and is a highlight of home football games.

Wofford College Motto

Intaminatis fulget honoribus

Virtus, replusae nexcia sordidae,
Intaminatis fulget honoribus
Nec sumit out ponit securis
Arbitrio popularis aurae.

Shining with untarnished honor

True worth, that never know ignoble defeat,
Shines with undimmed glory,
Nor takes up nor lays aside the axes
At the fickle mob's behest.

The Wofford College motto already was in use as part of the seal of the college on a diploma dating from 1857, but existing records do not indicate precisely when it was adopted.

The motto is a quotation from Horace&rsquos Odes (III.2.18), published around 23 BCE. The poem is a famous one, the source of the phrase dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori (&ldquoit is sweet and befitting to die for one&rsquos country&rdquo). It would have been familiar to the classically trained faculty and students in the early days of the college&rsquos existence. In fact, based on early course catalogs in the archives, sophomores would have read the complete poem in the original as part of the normal course of study.

Poetry, especially Horace&rsquos, is notoriously difficult to translate faithfully into English, because poetic language implies a great deal that the literal meaning of the words may not. Often, different translations vary widely. Here are a few examples from the Sandor Teszler Library of how this phrase has been translated:

Virtus, repulsae nescia sordidae,
intaminatis fulget honoribus

True worth, that never knows ignoble defeat,
shines with undimmed glory
(Bennett)

Manhood, that has known no disgrace in defeat,
retains its brightness, its honors untarnished
(Clancy)


ɺ part of the magic of love': How Harris Wofford fell for a man 50 years his junior

WASHINGTON — Harris Wofford, a former Democratic senator from Pennsylvania, John F. Kennedy's presidential assistant on civil rights and an intimate of Martin Luther King Jr., will wed at his apartment Saturday before a gathering of family and friends. Dinner is to follow at a neighborhood Italian restaurant.

The other groom, Matthew Charlton, is 40.

Wofford went public with his impending marriage in the essay "Finding Love Again, With a Man" published in Sunday's New York Times.

"Most of my life has been with a great woman, a great love, and a great family," says Wofford at his Washington home in his first interview since the article appeared. "Now, I'm with a great love late in my life."

Wofford is well aware that it is the age difference, more than his fiance's gender, that has caused jaws to plop and unleashed a fusillade of social media blasts.

"Everyone has a certain kind of amusement when there's a big age difference," he says, seated in a rattan chair in the apartment that the couple, who have been together for 15 years, have shared for the past six. "But that's a part of the magic of love. It really can bring people across a bridge, or build a bridge that you can cross."

The age difference "is sort of funny sounding," he says, "funny with a emphasis on fun."

Marvin Joseph | Washington Post

Harris Wofford poses in the Washington, D.C., apartment he shares with Matthew Charlton.

Marvin Joseph | Washington Post

Harris Wofford poses in the Washington, D.C., apartment he shares with Matthew Charlton.

Tall and courtly, Wofford has been an idealist for social justice his entire life. In many ways, his public declaration of marriage at age 90 to another man can be seen as one of his last and most deeply personal acts in furthering the cause of equal rights.

Wofford attended Howard Law School for a year in the 1950s, then the program's only white student and, he believes, the first. (He transferred to Yale, from which he graduated.) He helped establish the Peace Corps. In the Senate in the 1990s, he championed universal health care and later worked with several nonprofit organizations on national service and volunteering. In Philadelphia, he introduced President Barack Obama before his 2008 "A More Perfect Union" speech on race.

Wofford worked for weeks on the essay. He wanted to share his love with the public, he says. He appears to have devoted less time to finalizing details of the wedding, which will be attended by about 30 friends and relatives, including all three of his grown children and four of his six grandsons. The couple will honeymoon and host another party at the family home in Nantucket in June.

Remnants of Wofford's April 9 birthday party — confetti, a banner and boxes — clutter the dining area. Quite frankly, the apartment is nowhere near ready for nuptials this weekend.

On Monday, he and Charlton were still debating the readings for the ceremony. Charlton, an interior designer, was in New York working on a major assignment, though he hoped to buy the rings. Wofford plans to wear a suit.

The grooms are keeping their own names, "though Charlton would be very nice," says Wofford.

He dismisses the assigning of labels, or "pinning," as he calls it.

"Did I ever consider myself gay? No. It's what I think should not be asked of people," he says. An Old World-style romantic, he discusses the relationship in terms of love rather than sexuality.

"I think this is an example of the most private matter. Most of us are intrigued with the sexuality of friends or others. Perhaps with some close friends you want to talk about this," he says. "When people want to talk abut their sexuality, either go to confession or be happy about it. I don't measure myself or my friends by their sexuality."

Courtesy of Harris Wofford via Civic Documentaries

Harris Wofford and Clare Lindgren at their 1948 wedding.

Courtesy of Harris Wofford via Civic Documentaries

Harris Wofford and Clare Lindgren at their 1948 wedding.

When he first got married in 1948, at age 22, to Clare Lindgren, the local St. Paul, Minnesota, newspaper observed, "The young couple are active in the movement to save the world."

In their first year of marriage, the Woffords traveled to India on a fellowship to study the work of Gandhi: "It shaped my life," says Wofford. They both returned with amoebic dysentery. The cure was arsenic injections for two to three months. The doctor told Clare, "This is marvelous medicine: an ounce will cure you, but 10 ounces will kill you." Clare responded, "That's just about what I think about civil disobedience."

Clare, Wofford's "best friend and my best critic," died in 1996 of acute leukemia. She remains a constant in Wofford's conversation, as though she were busy in the next room. After her death, "I was sure I would never again feel the kind of love Clare and I shared," he says.

Five years later, there was Charlton on a beach in Fort Lauderdale.

Wofford was 75 and Charlton 25. At dusk, gazing east toward the Atlantic, Wofford recalls, "We had a wonderful talk, very stirring, a beautiful sky and a beautiful ocean."

Later, he found himself thinking, "I would really like to go back to the beach and swim with Matthew Charlton again."

It took him all of a week, possibly two, to know that this was love.

"I was surprised in the sense that I didn't think it was likely that there would be someone that really struck me with a spark, that moved me, because of my age," he says.

Initially, their professional interests differed, "though we shared a love of adventure and travel, and being outdoors." Charlton, a native of South Carolina, first studied industrial design before pursuing interior design, and created a three-legged "Charlton chair" fashioned of metal and wood.

"He's now got a lot of interest in politics," says Wofford. "And I've come to respect and be intrigued by the design field, not that I have anything to contribute."

Wofford possesses an unforced elegance — in the 1930s, he joined his grandmother on a six-month world tour — and is genial and generous, opening his home to a stranger days before the wedding.

He asks to be addressed as Harris. "I haven't been 'Senator' for ages," he scoffs. A former president of Bryn Mawr College and chairman of Pennsylvania's Democratic party, he has stuffed his apartment with books and photos of Kennedy and King, Clinton and Obama, and George H.W. Bush ("I really grew to admire him"). An oversized bust of Socrates dominates the library that Charlton designed and that serves as their office.

Often on the premises is 20-something Jacob Finkel, who has been working on a documentary about Wofford for eight years. "Entirely his idea," says Wofford. Finkel has assumed the role of assistant and gatekeeper. When Wofford's stories take an engaging peregrination, he often turns to Finkel to prompt his memory.

For three years, Wofford didn't share his romance with his children, who are all older than Charlton.

"If I'd been wiser, I would have gotten them to know each other a little sooner," says Wofford, the only time he grows wistful. "When they did get to know him, they all liked him."

"I think it's wonderful," says Susanne Wofford, a Shakespeare scholar and a dean of New York University, who will serve as "master of ceremonies" (her father's phrase) at Saturday's nuptials. "My father is very a lucky man to find someone who cares about him. They're both very lucky."

There was no need to get married, to make an honest man of them both, but June's Supreme Court decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges moved the couple to make their union legal. Wofford is particularly taken with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's majority decision and Obama's reference to the "dignity" of marriage.

"For a long time, I didn't think it would be politically possible. And I was wrong," he says. "And it was wrong that I was wrong."

A few months ago, in the living room where they are to be wed, Wofford asked Charlton to be his husband.

"We will find out how long I'm around and how it strengthens our great relationship," he says. "I'm very lucky to have the privilege of having had two great loves in one life."


Harris Wofford, rights activist and senator, dies at 92

Former Sen. Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania, a longtime civil rights activist who helped persuade John F. Kennedy to make a crucial phone call to the wife of Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1960 presidential campaign, has died

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Former Sen. Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania, a longtime civil rights activist who helped persuade John F. Kennedy to make a crucial phone call to the wife of Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1960 presidential campaign, has died. He was 92.

Wofford died in the hospital late Monday night of complications from a fall Saturday in his Washington apartment, his son Daniel Wofford said.

Kennedy's phone call to Coretta Scott King when her husband was locked in a Georgia prison cell in 1960 is credited by some analysts with turning the black vote in his favor and perhaps proving to be the decisive factor in the race against Republican Richard Nixon.

Despite fears of a backlash by Southern whites, Wofford and fellow campaign aide R. Sargent Shriver pressed Kennedy to make the call and then helped engineer the distribution of pamphlets to the black community and black churches that quoted the Kings expressing their gratitude. They also cited Martin Luther King Sr. saying he would switch his vote to back Kennedy as a man of "moral courage."

Wofford went on to serve as a civil rights aide to Kennedy during his administration and worked in private law practice, higher education and Pennsylvania state government until his upset Senate win in 1991.

Wofford, who was white, began his activism in high school. Visits to India left him inspired by Mohandas K. Gandhi, and he marched with King. He became an aide and friend to Democratic presidents over a span of decades.

"He was really blessed to have such a long and full and interesting and happy life," Daniel Wofford said in an interview Tuesday. "As we realized that we were going to lose him, we began to focus on what an amazing career and father and friend he was to so many."

As the head of President Bill Clinton's domestic volunteer program, Wofford was behind the national Martin Luther King Day of Service, which urged Americans to volunteer on the holiday.

"Harris Wofford believed that every American has a responsibility to make the future better for all of us, and he spent his long, good life doing just that," Clinton said in a statement. "For more than half a century, he was one of America's most important moral voices for equality and justice, quality health care as a fundamental right, and creating more opportunities for people to serve their country."

Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania on Tuesday called Wofford "a champion of justice and a man of uncommon courage who dedicated his life to service."

"It's only fitting that Harris passed away on the national day of service he helped to bring into existence," Casey said.

Though perhaps best known for his three years in the Senate, Wofford left a large legacy by shaping government programs behind the scenes.

As a Kennedy aide, he helped Shriver create the Peace Corps. In the Senate, he led the effort to create the Corporation for National Service.

"I obviously get a lot of joy out of public service," Wofford said in a 1995 interview. "I've followed ideas in life, and the idea of volunteer service has been with me even before I went to college. It's very hard to imagine life when you're not following ideas."

Wofford was president of the State University of New York at Old Westbury and Bryn Mawr College, the women's liberal arts institution outside Philadelphia, and did a stint as Pennsylvania's Democratic Party chairman.

In 1991, Wofford was then-Gov. Bob Casey Sr.'s secretary for labor and industry when Casey appointed him to fill the Senate vacancy created by the death of Republican John Heinz.

Six months later, Wofford pulled off a surprise victory in the special election to complete Heinz's term. He beat Republican Dick Thornburgh, who was President George H.W. Bush's attorney general and a former Pennsylvania governor.

The author of four books, Wofford was known as a bit of an egghead, not a smooth-talking politician. He had difficulty speaking in sound bites, and many analysts say he preferred the nuts and bolts of legislation over ribbon-cutting events and public visits.

In the midterm election of 1994, voters soured on Clinton's early efforts and gave control of Congress back to Republicans for the first time in decades. In Pennsylvania, Wofford fell in his bid for a full Senate term to Republican Rick Santorum.

A year later, Clinton named Wofford to head the Corporation for National Service , which included Clinton's beloved AmeriCorps.

"I'll always be especially grateful for his role in making AmeriCorps a reality," Clinton said.

In late 2007, Wofford traveled to Iowa to endorse the candidacy of then-Sen. Barack Obama.

According to The New York Times, he told a crowd that he had not felt so inspired "since the days of John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. . Barack Obama picked up the torch that they lit."

In 2016, Wofford, by then a widower of two decades after his wife of 48 years, Clare, died of leukemia, announced in a column in The New York Times that he had found love with a man 50 years his junior.

"At age 70, I did not imagine that I would fall in love again and remarry. But the past 20 years have made my life a story of two great loves," he wrote.

Wofford was 75 when he met Matthew Charlton, who was 25, and they married when they were 90 and 40.

Wofford's activism in civil rights dated to the 1950s. He served as a lawyer for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, was one of the first white graduates of Howard University Law School in 1954 and became a close confidant of King.

Born in 1926 in New York City to a successful insurance salesman and a civic activist, Harris Llewellyn Wofford was active during his teenage years in Scarsdale, New York, advocating worldwide government as the founder of Student Federalists.

But during a visit to India, he was exposed to Gandhi's teachings and his enthusiasm was tempered by a realization that more practical solutions would be needed for world problems. He and Clare later wrote "India Afire," published in 1951, and sent it to King.

He also helped arrange King's visit to India, and King, already intrigued by Gandhi's methods, and Wofford came to share an affinity for applying Gandhi's ideas of nonviolence to the civil rights movement.

He is survived by Charlton and three children, Susanne, Daniel and David, and six grandchildren.

This story has been corrected to show Wofford served as secretary of labor and industry under then-Gov. Bob Casey Sr., not Sen. Bob Casey.


What I Saw at Selma

King’s genius was that he knew when to thwart the law—and when to obey it.

Former Sen. Harris Wofford (D-Penn.) was the only federal government official to join as a marcher from Selma to Montgomery. He was special assistant to President Kennedy for Civil Rights and counsel to Father Theodore Hesburgh on the first U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He was the first white man to graduate Howard Law School in 1954 and quietly worked for more than a decade thereafter as an adviser to Martin Luther King.

Martin Luther King Jr. liked to joke that I was the one member of his legal team who would help him go to jail rather than using all the tricks of the trade to keep him out. I’d originally connected with King after returning from travels in India in 1949, soon after Gandhi was assassinated. My wife and I had followed Gandhi’s trail and gotten to know many of his supporters. And while I was learning everything I could about Mahatma Gandhi, King was doing the same.

After I returned home from India, as a young lawyer, I volunteered to help King apply the Gandhian strategies that interested us both so much in the United States. Before the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, E.D. Nixon, leader of the Montgomery NAACP, had shared with King a Hampton University talk in which I argued that the burgeoning American civil rights movement should embrace Gandhian civil disobedience as one of its core tactics. In the years ahead, I had a fascinating window into the movement King was creating.

This weekend, we mark half a century since Martin Luther King Jr. led the famous march from Selma to Montgomery, the last of three marches begun in Selma, Alabama, in March of 1965 to champion a voting rights act. But it would be a mistake to remember only that third march, which triumphantly reached the capitol steps in Montgomery—or the first terrible march, which ended in “Bloody Sunday” on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. To fully appreciate King’s skill as a leader, we need to remember the second march—the one that was cut short when King made the hard decision to comply with a temporary federal court injunction prohibiting a march and turn back to Selma instead of continuing on to Montgomery. At that pivotal moment, the quintessential American advocate of civil disobedience chose to obey the law blocking his path. And in so doing, King paved the way for the successful third march and then passage of the Voting Rights Act five months later.

Selma came after a decade of what King considered seasons of non-violent protest. After a first attempt at a march from Selma to Montgomery, led by John Lewis, ended in violence on “Bloody Sunday,” he issued a nationwide call for participants in a second Selma march. Then news arrived that Federal Judge Frank Johnson, a strong supporter of civil rights, had issued a temporary injunction. He ordered that there be no march until the legal argument for a march and the issue of ensuring marchers’ safety could be discussed in his court. (Judge Johnson’s injunction and King’s response to it are an important part of the story not told in the compelling film Selma.)

King faced a quandary: When should a reasoned follower of Gandhi decide to obey the law? Although Gandhi had advocated nonviolent civil disobedience in opposition to unjust laws, this temporary injunction did not seem unjust.

A number of us in Selma argued against a confrontation with the federal judiciary. King was accustomed to breaking discriminatory state laws, but had never before violated the orders of a federal court. Martin listened to our case: that we march towards but not to Montgomery and ask everyone to return when the injunction was lifted to complete the march. He asked me doubtfully, “Do you think people really would come back?”

King knew that if he obeyed the injunction and postponed the march, Judge Johnson could ultimately provide federal protection for a future march. But King also understood that if we did not march right away, he risked losing control of the impassioned civil rights supporters who had gathered from across the country and were demanding a response to Bloody Sunday’s brutality at the bridge.

As we walked together toward Brown’s Chapel, where the would-be marchers had gathered, King said, “This was a prayerful decision. Sometimes you don’t know whether you are making the right decision or not, but you have to decide. We have to march today.” He added softly, “But we may not march very far.”

To the hundreds of marchers, King announced that we would march peacefully in obedience to a higher law. He often liked to invoke the Constitution, and as a former Notre Dame constitutional law teacher I wanted the justification of the First Amendment if we were going to break the injunction. Writing on my yellow pad, “First Amendment” in large letters, I passed the note up to King as he spoke. He was eloquently invoking the Bible to support the march, and then, glancing down at the note, he added, “And we march in the name of the Constitution, knowing the Constitution is on our side. The right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances shall not be abridged. That’s the First Amendment.”

So the march began, silently, two abreast. From the windows and sidewalks of Selma, hundreds of white residents watched wordlessly. We marched up the Edmund Pettus Bridge and saw ahead a thin blue line of state troopers and a great mass of police cars blocking the road. From a loudspeaker came a command to halt and disperse.

We stopped, and many knelt on the pavement as Bishop John Lord of Washington D.C. delivered a prayer—asking for the highway to open like the Red Sea for Moses. As if in response, the Alabama troopers suddenly moved aside, leaving the way to Montgomery miraculously clear, seemingly inviting us to violate the injunction.

As the marchers surged forward behind King, he suddenly turned around and led the way back toward Selma, calling out “Back to Brown’s Chapel!” I watched with amazement as the marchers turned and followed King.

Back at the chapel there was relief mixed with the fury of those who wanted to push on into the billy clubs. Many of the young militants in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee dubbed him “Martin Loser King.” Some of the religious leaders who had come from across the country felt an opportunity had been lost. Bishop Lord was disappointed that we had not taken advantage of the troopers’ retreat, but said to me, “I suppose if he had let the word out that he intended to turn back, half the line would have rebelled and marched on toward Montgomery.”

We later learned that King had informed John Doar of the Department of Justice in advance that he would not violate the court order. This may have been why the state troopers were directed to get off the road. Skillfully using the element of surprise in turning the marchers back, King succeeded in achieving the hard balance of symbolically protesting while not violating a reasonable federal order. He saw that breaking the court’s order would be self-defeating. Not only would the State Police have resumed their Bloody Sunday brutality, but much of the public would have found fault with King for disobeying a legal order. He was a leader who was willing to disappoint his own followers in order to move the cause towards victory.

Eight days later, Judge Johnson lifted his injunction, ruling that King and his followers had a constitutional right to march, and President Lyndon Johnson federalized the Alabama National Guard to protect the participants. On March 21st, with the law and law enforcement on our side, thousands of us did return to Selma. My plane in from Washington was late, and the marchers had long since crossed the bridge. As I trotted along the highway to catch up, a white man called out mockingly from his car, “Hurry up, or you’ll miss your march!”

Army MPs lined the road, and Air Force helicopters circled overhead. The procession swelled with dozens, hundreds, and then, as we halted on the outskirts of Montgomery, thousands of new marchers. King announced, “We have a new song to sing tomorrow. We have overcome.” The next morning, reaching the capitol in Montgomery, King led 25,000 marchers down the broad avenue where Confederate President Jefferson Davis had held his inaugural parade.

Later that night we were reminded of how much further the civil rights movement still had to go when Viola Liuzzo, a young white mother, was shot to death by Klansmen while driving a marcher back to Selma. Victory in Montgomery certainly did not stop future blood spilt or lives lost. King himself was killed three years later in Memphis. Yet the marchers had won the support of the public and of the president of the United States. Within a few months, the Voting Rights Act would be passed by Congress and happily signed by Lyndon Johnson.

Fifty years later, while commemorating that day, we should remember that success came not just because King’s message was eloquent and the cause just. It came because he had the courage to march ahead and then the wisdom to turn back.


Sandor Teszler Library

Dr. Green received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of South Carolina and his Ph.D. from Yale University. Before coming to Wofford, Green had been president of Emerson College, Dean of Men at Middlebury College, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the South. Dr. Green joined the faculty in 1956 and served until his death in 1965. During his tenure, Green was chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Blue Ridge School for Boys in Hendersonville, N.C.

Dr. James Richard Gross
Garrison Professor of English and Theatre

Dr. Gross received a B.B.A. from Wake Forest, an M.A. from the University of North Carolina, and a Ph.D. from Duke University. Dr. Gross joined the faculty in 1966 and retired in 2003. During his tenure, Dr. Gross was chairman of the Fine Arts Department, founder and director of the Theatre Workshop, and directed numerous theatrical performances at the college. Upon his retirement the cascading steps along the Liberty Trail were named in his honor.

Dr. John Wilbur Harrington
Professor of Geology

Dr. Harrington received a B.A. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. Before coming to Wofford, he had served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Dr. Harrington joined the faculty in 1963 and remained in the service of the college until his retirement in 1981. During his tenure at Wofford, Dr. Harrington annually conducted intensive four-week geological or archaeological studies for students enrolled in his interims, was chairman of the geology department, authored several geology textbooks and was known for conducting almost all of his classes out in the field. Dr. Harrington died in 1986

Dr. John West Harris
Professor of English and French

Dr. Harris received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Wofford College in 1916 and his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. Before coming to Wofford, his first teaching experience was as an Air Force instructor in World War I. He joined the faculty in 1920 and served until 1935. During his tenure at Wofford, Dr. Harris founded the National Beta Club in 1933 to promote scholarship and a sense of community service among high school students. After leaving Wofford in 1935, Dr. West went on to teach at Presbyterian College in 1941 and retired from that institution in 1960. Dr. Harris died in 1976.

Dr. Edmund Henry
Professor of English

Dr. Henry received his A.B. from Syracuse University and a Ph.D. from Rochester University. Dr. Henry joined the faculty in 1970 and served until his retirement in 1997. During his tenure he participated in S.A.T. workshops for high school students and coached the college bowl team.

Professor William Chapman Herbert
Professor of Greek, Mathematics, and Education and Registrar


Subsequent career [ edit | edit source ]

From 1995 to 2001, Wofford served as chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that runs AmeriCorps and other domestic volunteer programs. Α] Since leaving that position, he has taught at the University of Maryland, College Park.

In 2005, he met Barack Obama. The two became friends and when Obama made his speech on race in America, A More Perfect Union, Wofford introduced him. Α]

On January 4, 2007, Wofford was present for the swearing-in of Senator Bob Casey Jr., who defeated Santorum in his bid for a third term, ⎛] and on January 3, 2013, Wofford again accompanied Casey to his swearing-in for a second term on the floor of the Senate.

Since 2001, Wofford has served on the boards of several charities and service organizations, including America's Promise, Youth Service America and the Points of Light Foundation. He was a trustee to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change. ⎜] Between 2007 and 2009, Wofford was the national spokesperson for Experience Wave, a national campaign that sought to advance state and federal policies to make it easier for mid-life and older adults to stay engaged in work and community life. ⎝]

Wofford is currently a board member of Malaria No More, a New York-based nonprofit that was launched at the 2006 White House Summit with the goal of ending all deaths caused by malaria. He serves on the Board of Selectors of Jefferson Awards for Public Service. ⎞] He served as a senior fellow at the Case Foundation in Washington, D.C.