Archive - January 2019

1
New York Times: Harris Wofford, Ex-Senator Who Pushed Volunteerism, Dies at 93
2
Harris Wofford, civil rights activist who helped Kennedy win the White House, dies at 92
3
New Books by Peace Corps writers — October, November, December 2018
4
HONORABLE EXIT By Thurston Clarke (Tunisia)
5
RPCV Patricia McArdle: PCV, Diplomat, Novelist, Solar Cook (Paraguay)
6
Ask Trump, He’ll Fix It!
7
RPCV Jason Spindler (Peru) killed in Kenyan hotel attack
8
Peter Hessler’s New Book on Egypt (China)
9
RPCV Writer Hits it Big (Kenya)
10
Afghanistan, First Peace Corps Staff

New York Times: Harris Wofford, Ex-Senator Who Pushed Volunteerism, Dies at 93

Harris Wofford, Ex-Senator Who Pushed Volunteerism, Dies at 93

 

Harris Wofford with President Bill Clinton during the first national recruitment effort for AmeriCorps volunteers at the University of Maryland in 1999. Mr. Clinton named him to lead the service organization after Mr. Wofford left the Senate.

By Robert D. McFadden

  • 22, 2019

Harris Wofford, a former United States senator from Pennsylvania whose passion for getting people involved helped create John F. Kennedy’s Peace Corps, Bill Clinton’s AmeriCorps and other service organizations and made him America’s volunteer-in-chief, died on Monday night in Washington. He was 92.

His son Daniel said his death, at a hospital, was caused by complications of a fall at Mr. Wofford’s Washington apartment, The Associated Press reported.

By the time he became a senator in May 1991, appointed after his predecessor was killed in an aircraft accident, Mr. Wofford was already 65. He had been a lawyer, an author, a professor, the president of two colleges, a special assistant to President John F. Kennedy, an adviser to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, the state’s commissioner of labor and industry, a champion of civil rights and a leading force in America’s national and community service movement.

A month after Republican Senator H. John Heinz III died, Gov. Robert P. Casey was still searching for a replacement, having been turned down by Lee Iacocca, the chairman of Chrysler, and others. Whoever accepted would have to run in a special election in November against the United States attorney general, Dick Thornburgh, a popular former two-term governor who had signaled his intention to seek the seat.

Governor Casey turned to his old friend, Mr. Wofford, who accepted a six-month appointment to the Senate seat pending the special election. Polls showed Mr. Thornburgh with a whopping 47 percent lead, but Mr. Wofford gained steadily in a winning campaign that stressed health care and the economy, themes that resonated with voters and that would underlie Mr. Clinton’s campaign for the presidency a year later. (James Carville and Paul Begala were strategists for both campaigns, and Mr. Wofford was considered for the vice presidency, although Senator Al Gore was chosen.)

Mr. Wofford as an aide to President John F. Kennedy, sat behind and to Kennedy’s left during a meeting of the Civil Rights Commission in the White House in 1961. Among the others were Spottswood W. Robinson III, a civil rights lawyer and future federal judge, seated to Mr. Wofford’s left; and, beside him, the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, president of the University of Notre Dame.CreditByron Rollins/Associated Press

Mr. Wofford as an aide to President John F. Kennedy, sat behind and to Kennedy’s left during a meeting of the Civil Rights Commission in the White House in 1961. Among the others were Spottswood W. Robinson III, a civil rights lawyer and future federal judge, seated to Mr. Wofford’s left; and, beside him, the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, president of the University of Notre Dame.

Mr. Wofford served out three remaining years of Mr. Heinz’s term and was narrowly defeated in 1994 by Representative Rick Santorum, a Republican 32 years his junior. But Mr. Wofford had one thing to show for his term — the National and Community Service Act of 1993, which created AmeriCorps, the Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America, federally funded programs that have enlisted hundreds of thousands of volunteers for education, health, environmental cleanups and other public service projects.

After leaving the Senate, Mr. Wofford was named head of AmeriCorps and its parent corporation by Mr. Clinton, who counted the program as a major achievement. Mr. Wofford helped organize America’s Promise, the Alliance for Youth, a nonprofit national service organization to improve children’s lives. In 2001, after six years with AmeriCorps, he succeeded Colin Powell as chairman of America’s Promise.

Mr. Wofford’s wife, Clare (Lindgren) Wofford, whom he married in 1948 and with whom he had three children, died in 1996. In April 2016, writing in the Sunday Review section of The New York Times, Mr. Wofford disclosed his pending marriage to Matthew Charlton, 40, a designer with whom he had been living for 15 years. They married that year.

“At age 90,” Mr. Wofford wrote, “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.”

In the article, Mr. Wofford did not define himself as gay, writing, “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.”

In addition to his son Daniel and Mr. Charlton, Mr. Wofford is survived by a daughter, Susanne Wofford; another son, David; a brother; a sister; and six grandchildren.

x

President Barack Obama, in 2012, presented Mr. Wofford with the Presidential Citizen’s Medal, the nation’s second highest civilian honor, for a lifetime of humanitarian work.

Harris Llewellyn Wofford was born in New York City on April 9, 1926, and grew up in Scarsdale, N.Y. He was precocious. When he was 10, his maternal grandmother took him out of school for six months and around the world on tramp steamers. He saw 16 countries, witnessing Mussolini’s balcony rant the night he took Italy out of the League of Nations and the ruins of Shanghai after a Japanese bombing.

Inspired by the journalist Clarence Streit’s idea of world government, a union of democracies, while a student at Scarsdale High School in 1942, Mr. Wofford founded an organization, Student Federalists, that expanded to become a 2,500-member movement; he was elected its president in 1943.

In 1944, with World War II well underway, he volunteered for the Army Air Forces but did not leave the country. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1948 and married the former Clare Lindgren that year.

He and his wife traveled for seven months in Pakistan and India, studying with disciples of Mohandas K. Gandhi, who had recently been assassinated. They worked on a kibbutz in Israel for a year and together wrote “India Afire,” (1951), which argued for land redistribution.

In the early 1950s, Mr. Wofford studied law at Yale and historically black Howard University, receiving law degrees from both in 1954. He began practicing law in Washington and was a counsel to the United States Civil Rights Commission until 1958. He taught law at the University of Notre Dame in 1959-60 and joined the Kennedy campaign.

After the election, he became a special assistant for civil rights and helped R. Sargent Shriver found the Peace Corps, later becoming its representative in Africa and its associate director. In 1965, he joined Dr. King’s civil rights movement in the South and a voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., and was arrested with other protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

In an article in Politico Magazine in 2015, Mr. Wofford recalled passing a note to Dr. King as he spoke to marchers before stepping off in Selma. “First Amendment,” the note said.

“He was eloquently invoking the Bible to support the march,” Mr. Wofford wrote, “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.’ ”

From 1966 to 1970, Mr. Wofford was president of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury (now known as SUNY Old Westbury), on Long Island, and from 1970 to 1978 he was the second male president of Bryn Mawr, the women’s college in Pennsylvania. He practiced law in Philadelphia from 1980 to 1986, when he became state Democratic chairman. He was the state’s secretary of labor and industry from 1987 to 1991.

Mr. Wofford lectured widely and wrote a memoir, “Of Kennedys and Kings: Making Sense of the Sixties,” (1980). In recent years, he worked for many service organizations, including Experience Wave, which enlists retirees to tutor in schools. An early supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential race, he introduced Mr. Obama in Philadelphia for his celebrated speech on race in America, “A More Perfect Union.”

President Obama, in 2012, awarded Mr. Wofford the Presidential Citizen’s Medal, the nation’s second highest civilian honor, for a lifetime of humanitarian work.

In an interview in 2011 with Liz Fanning, the founder and executive director of CorpsAfrica, a Peace Corps project that helps African volunteers to work in their own countries, Mr. Wofford hailed the concept of home-country volunteering, especially by students in Africa.

“There isn’t the big overseas transportation problem,” he said. “Also, in most cases, there would not be a linguistic problem, which requires a lot of investment. Money will of course be a limiting factor, but there is something special about a long journey that is part of one’s education. There should be long journeys in your life, whether in your own country or abroad.”

[Please send me what you believe Senator Wofford did for the Peace Corps, or your fond recollection of meeting and working with Harris. I’ll post them on our site. jcoyneone@gmail.com]

Harris Wofford, civil rights activist who helped Kennedy win the White House, dies at 92

Harris Wofford, civil rights activist who helped Kennedy win the White House, dies at 92 By Elaine Woo January 22 at 1:42 AM 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, Mr. 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. Mr. 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 . . .

Read More

New Books by Peace Corps writers — October, November, December 2018

To purchase any of these books from Amazon.com — Click on the book cover, the bold book title, or the publishing format you would like — and Peace Corps Worldwide, an Amazon Associate, will receive a small remittance from your purchase that will help support the site and the annual Peace Corps Writers awards. We are now including a one-sentence description — provided by the author — for the books listed here in hopes of encouraging readers  1) to order the book and 2) to volunteer to review it. See a book you’d like to review for Peace Corps Worldwide? Send a note to Marian at peacecorpsworldwide@gmail.com, and we’ll send you a copy along with a few instructions. • Figuring in the Figure (poetry) Ben  Berman (Zimbabwe 1998–2000) Able Muse Press 2017 88 pages $18.95 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle) The poems in Figuring in the Figure are laden with aphorisms, puns, and witticisms meditate on shapes, angles, thinking about thinking, marriage, and . . .

Read More

HONORABLE EXIT By Thurston Clarke (Tunisia)

  “America’s years in Vietnam were full of shame, but the last days of the war saw a remarkable effort at redemption. Breaking rules set by their higher-ups, ordinary Americans—servicemen, diplomats, spies, private citizens—moved heaven and earth to get their Vietnamese friends and allies to safety. Thurston Clarke’s Honorable Exit brings this little-known story to light with the speed and power of a riveting thriller. It challenges us to remember a time when Americans refused to abandon desperate people in a far-off country. It’s a kind of Schindler’s List for America’s lost war.” —George Packer (Togo 1982-83), author of The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq and The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America • In 1973 U.S. participation in the Vietnam War ended in a cease-fire and a withdrawal that included promises by President Nixon to assist the South in the event of invasion by the North. But in early 1975, when North Vietnamese . . .

Read More

RPCV Patricia McArdle: PCV, Diplomat, Novelist, Solar Cook (Paraguay)

RPCVs are amazing people, and some are more amazing than others. Especially those who also write (sorry, I’m bias.) Thanks to Greg Engle (Ethiopia CD 2012-14) for the ‘heads up’ about Patricia McArdle an RPCV who has had an amazing life and is an amazing writer. I found Patricia’s email address (thanks to the NPCA 2016 Peace Corps Community Directory) and contacted her in California. Patricia wrote back to tell me about her long career in the foreign service and how she came to be first published. Patricia, right out of school, was a PCV health educator in Acahay, Paraguay (1972-74). She came home to join the U.S. Navy as an officer and went to Morocco from ’74 to ’77 where she was one of the first two female Naval Officers at a remote U.S. communications base. Next she attended the Thunderbird School of Global Management, receiving her MBA, and . . .

Read More

RPCV Jason Spindler (Peru) killed in Kenyan hotel attack

Jason Spindler (Peru 2005), founder and managing director of I-DEV International, died in the attack on the DusitD2 compound, an upmarket cluster of shops and hotel facilities in the capital of Nairobi, his company said. Jason, who was also in the attack on 9/11 joined the Peace Corps after that and was a PCV in Peru. His company had an office at a space for entrepreneurs called Metta located in the hotel complex. Colleagues confirmed Spindler was having a meal when the attack happened. He was the only American killed in the Nairobi attack. Photo: I-DEV International • CNN gave more information about Jason Spindler at:https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/16/us/kenya-american-jason-spindler-killed/index.html “Spindler was working in the World Trade Center 17 years ago when planes hit the towers, an I-DEV spokesman said. Spindler’s mother, Sarah Spindler, told NBC News on Tuesday night that her son “was trying to make positive change in the third world in . . .

Read More

Peter Hessler’s New Book on Egypt (China)

When Peter Hessler graduated from Princeton, he went to England as a Rhodes Scholar. Finishing school, he decided in 1994 to travel home by way of China. On the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Beijing, via Mongolia, he observed traders carrying odd products, from speedometers to Mongolia and Russian-speaking clocks to China. He wrote an essay about his trip and sent a blind submission to The New York Times. They published his article. “It was a shock to me,” Peter recalls. “And it was first time I had been published in a newspaper.” His trip took six months, and Peter continued to write articles for publication. An essay about camping on the Great Wall of China appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer; he then wrote a humorous piece about eating ice cream in Vietnam. These short essays would be his first small steps into a publishing career. “My initial trip around the world taught . . .

Read More

RPCV Writer Hits it Big (Kenya)

Today, Tuesday, January 15, 2019, Kristen Roupenian (Kenya 2003-05) first collection of short stories You Know You Want This is being published by Gallery/Scout Press. It has been named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Vogue, Huffpost, Entertainment Weekly,and Kirkus Review among others. Kristen Roupenian, who graduated from Barnard College, holds a PhD in English from Harvard, as well as an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. Her short story, “Cat Person,” published in The New Yorker late in 2017 went viral amid the growing #MetToo movement and made Kristen an overnight writer sensation. We have written about Kristen previously on this site at: http://peacecorpsworldwide.org/pcv-writer-cat-person-authors-bad-date-story-and-her-date-with-fame-kenya/ Kristen had finished most of this collection of short stories when it sold in a $1.3 million two-book deal the week after “Cat Person” was published. Now HBO is developing an anthology project, according to Ellen Gamerman in an . . .

Read More

Afghanistan, First Peace Corps Staff

Robert Steiner, the only Vermonter at the time to direct a Peace Corps program overseas, insists that “Afghans are like Vermonters—both are proud, independent and frugal.” He notes that they are generally wary of foreigners, including, sometimes, Peace Corps Volunteers. “Afghanistan has only recently known foreigners other than invading armies,” he points out. “Experience has taught them to be wary—to see a foreigner in their country for other than military purposes is to many of them a novelty.” Information about the Peace Corps was first brought to Afghanistan by Cleo Shook, a Peace Corps program officer with extensive experience in that nation. On a two-month visit which began in December, 1961, Shook was told that Afghanistan wanted Volunteers. Afghan caution, however, resulted in a limited program—the nine Volunteers who arrived in Afghanistan on September 6, 1962, to inaugurate the program were all assigned to work in the capital city of . . .

Read More

Copyright © 2016. Peace Corps Worldwide.