Here recently about Amy Carter attending...

IN COMMENTING

January 14, 1993|By THEO LIPPMAN JR.

IN COMMENTING here recently about Amy Carter attending D.C. public schools while living in the White House, I noted that after racking my brain I could recall only one liberal Democratic senator -- Sen. Henry Jackson of the state of Washington -- who sent his kids to D.C. public schools in those days.

A colleague promptly told me he recalled that Sen. William Proxmire of Wisconsin also did.

Well, I can only rack one brain at a time, so I didn't feel too bad about the mistake. I felt even better when that colleague called back to say he had learned that Proxmire took his kids out of public schools and put them in Sidwell Friends, where Chelsea Clinton is going.

* * *

Some close readers of that column may have noticed that I said I "wracked" my brain. Another of my colleagues is responsible for that. I wrote "rack" but this editor said he recalled reading in his dictionary that "wrack" was preferred, so he changed it for some editions. He didn't look it up because he was in a hurry.

The dictionaries I rely on say specifically that what one does to one's brain in trying to bring up old memories is "rack" it. Well, these things happen all the time. Deadlines make journalism a wracking profession.

* * *

Another colleague asked me what had happened to Amy Carter since she left the D.C. schools. Well, the last I heard she had entered Brown University, left prematurely, graduated from an art college in Memphis, and today she's painting and working in a bookstore in Atlanta and planning to go back to school for an advanced degree.

She has been arrested four times, her proud parents like to boast. The arrests were for demonstrating against apartheid and such things.

* * *

One of my favorite politicians when it came to sticking to principles regarding their children's education is A. Linwood Holton Jr. He was elected Virginia's first Republican governor in 1969. The race issue was much more intense than now, especially in Virginia.

On the first day of school in 1970, Holton accompanied his 13-year-old daughter to a Richmond public school that was 71 percent black. Mrs. Holton took two other children to opening day at schools that were also predominantly black.

"In his short term as governor of Virginia, Linwood Holton has provided some excellent examples in the field of race relations, but Monday's was by far the most impressive," opined the Washington Star. "This was not an act of showmanship by the governor. It was a demonstration of leadership that other Southern officials -- and citizens in general -- should emulate."

Holton's political career went down the tubes. But by setting the example he did, he made it a little easier for the Southern politicians who came after him -- like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton -- to succeed even while doing the right thing on the race issue.

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