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Bush Addresses College Graduates

May 13, 2000

PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas (AP) _ Gov. George W. Bush condemned bigotry and the scholastic achievement gap between the nation’s rich and poor students in a commencement address Saturday at Prairie View A&M University.

``Bigotry and intolerance are unworthy of our country, because they go against our country’s creed _ the worth of every person as an individual,″ Bush told a crowd of about 4,000.

``The worth of an individual is measured by our hearts and our souls and our potential. We are measured by how we live our lives and how we treat others,″ he said.

Only one graduate accepted his diploma without shaking Bush’s hand; a second danced across the stage and stuck his tongue out toward Bush and the school’s president, Charles A. Hines, though he shook both men’s hands.

During his 20-minute speech, Bush received one of his warmest responses when he cited his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, and religion.

``One of the things my mother has taught me is this: the value of a strong and quiet faith,″ he said. ``God exists today, and God will exist forever.″

Bush also mentioned ``empty seats″ at the ceremony, referring to the six Prairie View students who died this semester, including four killed when a van carrying members of the men’s track team crashed in East Texas. Two others died in shootings.

``You responded to great sorrow with courage and faith,″ said Bush, whose father _ former President George Bush _ attended a memorial for victims of the Feb. 10 van wreck that injured six others. ``You comforted each other, and found the comfort that only comes from a kind and merciful Lord.″

Also Saturday, the senior Bush delivered a commencement speech at Rice University in Houston.

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