President and CEO of Haughton Group, LLC to the show
January 15, 2019 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Joyce welcomes Claiborne Haughton, president and CEO of Haughton Group, LLC to the show. In addition, Mr. Haughton is a motivational speaker and Equal Opportunity Diversity Consultant. He will explain his duties in each capacity and explain why he is known as father of the United States Department of Defense Program for individuals with disabilities.

» Listen
» Transcript
« Back to Schedule


Transcript

BENDER CONSULTING SERVICES

JANUARY 15, 2019

2:00 P.M.

DISABILITY MATTERS

 

Services Provided By:

    Caption First, Inc.

    P.O. Box 3066

    Monument, CO 80132

    800‑825‑5234

    Www.captionfirst.com

 

***

This text, document, or file is based on live transcription.  Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), captioning, and/or live transcription are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.  This text, document, or file is not to be distributed or used in any way that may violate copyright law.

*** 

 

>> Welcome to "Disability Matters" with your host Joyce Bender.  All comments used and opinions expressed on this show are solely those of the host, guest and callers.  Now, the host of "Disability Matters," here is Joyce Bender.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Hey, everyone!  Welcome to the show.  I hope you are having a great day.  Okay.  Here we go.  Here is my special shout out to Ireland.  You are back in first place, Ireland.  You know, we have 17 countries that hear this show and we have the largest audience in Ireland.  So here we are, you guys start off the year, you guys rock.  You have to no matter what country you are in make everyone aware of is this English speaking show about disability because everyone has a huge interest in trying to help people with disabilities no matter where we are in the world, but thank you so much.

And Yoshiko Dart, here we are, Yoshiko Dart, off to the new year with my greeting to you, and you know why; I'm going to keep that spirit of Justin Dart alive.  I certainly have to thank our lead sponsor, Highmark, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and our sponsor for the first part of the year, AudioEye.  And AudioEye, what a great company, what a great software product they have for web accessibility.  You have got to check them out, AudioEye.com.

Well, I am so excited today about this show because guess what?  I met with wonderful champion well-known disability rights leader way back in 1997 when I served on the President's Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities under Tony Coelho who reported to President Clinton, and that is when I had the great, great pleasure of first meeting Mr. Claiborne Haughton, President and CEO of The Haughton Group. Welcome to the show.

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: Thank you, Joyce.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  It is so exciting to have you here, and, Clay. I met you then, I have just seen you off and on through social media in different places, always thought so highly of you, but your story, I want to tell you, if you are a corporation or a business listening to this show, this man is a fabulous choice for you for a motivational speaker or consultant to come in, I mean, his story is unbelievable.  So, Clay, how about if we start by telling everyone your story because I know you were born with disabilities and you lived in an orphanage as you began your life, and look at you today, what a champion and how successful and how you achieved such goals academically.  But what was that like, Clay, at that time in your life?

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: Joyce, first, it's my privilege to be on your inspiring radio show and thank you so much for inviting me.  The great abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass said you are not judged by the height you have risen, but from the depth you have climbed.  I was born with cerebral palsy, blind in one eye in Louisiana in 1946.  I used to wear Coke bottle glasses so thick that when I looked at a map I could see people waving at me in Iowa.  I was a ward of the home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for 12 years before I was successfully reunited with my family.  12 years.  I recall the counsel of my guardian, the Executive Director, her name was Marion G. Wells.  She was a white woman who was demonized for her great work on behalf of African‑American children in Baton Rouge.

She kept me on the straight and narrow.  She said, Claiborne, you know, because of your disabilities, you will need an education to make it in this world, and I said, well, Ms. Wells, I'm good at shooting marbles, maybe I could make a living as a marble shooting champion.  She replied, son, the good book said thou shall not marble.  I wore steel leg braces during the day and later at night fell down often, but I always got up.  Ms. Wells drove me to the physical therapy center at United Cerebral Palsy Center to improve my walking gait.  I must say United Cerebral Palsy changed my life, and I thank them because I became extremely proud later on as an adult when they found me worthy of giving me the memorial award.

I can't thank Ms. Wells enough, because what she did was she inspired me to nurture my faith through scripture and to develop a victorious spirit.  And so in 1995, I had the opportunity to chair a committee, serve as the keynote speaker, and have a reunion for her back in Baton Rouge.  We brought her from New York City at the age of 85, and her children, they showered her with love and gifts and it brought tears to her eyes.  It filled my sisters and brothers with unspeakable joy.

So I'm pleased that they helped to turn my life around into a series of possibilities.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Wow!  You could be a movie, you know that?  I mean, that is unbelievable.  So when you think about being during that time in Louisiana with all of that racism and everything and growing up in an orphanage and against all odds just being so successful, I mean, have you considered writing a book, Clay?

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: Well, I have been thinking about it, and I am a procrastinator on that topic, Joyce.  That takes a lot of work, and I'm trying to get my archives together to think about that.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  I will tell you what, I think I will put you in my book I'm writing, and you can still write your book because that story, and I'm not kidding when I tell you that.  Here is the example of, you know, against all odds, first of all, racial, terrible racial period.  As you said, they even demonized the white woman at that school because she was helping African‑Americans.  I mean, a time when they were still killing African‑Americans in the south, and here you are add to that, you have these disabilities and you are in an orphanage.  It's not like you were born in this wealthy home, and look what you did.

So if you are listening to this show, you would be out of your mind if you don't get this man to come and speak because you know how there are people today, and like they don't get it.  They will think, they just don't get it about people with disabilities.  And what they can do.  And I would like to put his story against other people's story.

I would like to do that.  I mean, that is just so inspiring when you tell that story, Clay.  And you then went on, I want everyone to listen to this you got a Bachelor's Degree in biology from Dillard and an MBA from American University, and you are a graduate of the Armed Forces State College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and just, I mean, if you just go to his website and read about him, even put it in Google, you won't believe how many awards this man has won and whether he did at the Department of Defense which we will be talking about.

What I wanted to ask you, what was it, Clay, how in the heck were you able to do this?  I mean, you did this, as I said earlier, against all odds so how did you combat this terrible discrimination in your life being black and disabled in the house?

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: Well, Joyce, you know, after I got out of high school, I received a magnificent blessing.  When the State of Louisiana looked at my poverty disability and academic record, I was awarded a four‑year vocational rehabilitation scholarship, a vocational rehabilitation scholarship, which was very, very important to Dillard University in New Orleans Louisiana which is a prestigious private historically black college and university.

I recall during the summer after my sophomore year, I had to work to get myself through.  I started as a nurse's aide.  I enjoyed the job, but it was too hard for me to do that kind of work and study biology.  So I applied for a part‑time porter's job at this Swagman Brothers giant supermarket.  I dressed for success.  I wore a white shirt and necktie for the interview and I landed a job although I was applying a job as a porter, I got a job as a produce clerk which required the uniform of a white shirt, tie, and white apron.  Now, how about that?

>> JOYCE BENDER:  How about that.

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: My job was to fill and empty the produce stand and weigh groceries and I doubled as a porter at night.  But, Joyce, let me tell you something, in 1966 at that store I was making $1.10 an hour, and I used the money to buy food, school supplies, but mostly I purchased clothing.  I started to go down on Rampart Street where the tailors hung out, and I started getting myself tailor made suits.  And I earned a reputation as one of the best dressed men on that campus.

And I haven't looked back since in terms of dress code.  So as a person with disabilities, I learned early on the value of always looking my best, doing my best, and being my best in the workplace.  And so I enjoyed a mainstream education in college, but I had a strong course content, straight A average in sociology, religion and philosophy, but I didn't do well in chemistry and physics.  I was still able to graduate with that B.A. in biology or pre‑medical and I thought I wanted to go on to medical school, but all of my peers who would get into medical school, they were graduating Magna Cum Laude, Summa Cum Laude and since I graduated thank you, Lord, the only way I could have gotten into medical school was as a cadaver, so I had a life or death decision.  I chose life.  I went looking for a job.

I sent out over 100 resumes.  In six months I didn't get a single job offer.  Took a test down at the telephone company for a management trainee job, they told me I was overly qualified.  I took the federal service entrance examination.  I flunked it.  And somebody says, well, Clay, with all of that rejection and disappointment, you know, how did you feel about that?  Didn't you get discouraged?  I said, no, because somebody in that home told me, weepeth in the night but joy cometh in the morning.  Things were up in the air, and I will pause and let you go to the next question.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  I love hearing this.  And by the way, lesson for all of you young people listening with disabilities, I always say you get one chance to make a first impression.  How are you dressed?  How do you look?  And if you aren't dressed appropriately, you know what I'm going to think, well, that's how you will be with your work.  And by the way, how much could you respect this company if this is how you come dressed.  I hope you listen to what he said because I know that is true.  I know that is so true.

And then as you said, Clay, you got in the federal government, and then here it goes, not just in any area of the federal government, not just any area, the Department of Defense, the most prestigious.  The federal agency that protected our country, this is where you were, and how did that happen?  How did you first get in with the Department of Defense?

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: Well, Joyce, I, along with my faith and my degree, I finally passed the federal service entrance examination, and I was offered a job along with a classmate with the Defense Logistics Agency or the D.L.A. in Indianapolis Indiana, and they told us to arrive five days after graduation.  I started at the bottom of the ladder at D.L.A. as a GS5, quality assurance trainee inspecting packaging and packing and D.O.D. Contractors facilities all over Indiana.  And I can't sum up how happy I was to get a government job.  I was able to honor my father, mother and sister by sponsoring their first airplane trips to come and visit me.

I continued to move up in my quality assurance career.  I became a GF11 packaging specialist.  I was a good one too, Joyce, but a white supervisor came by one day and said, Clay, if I'm quoted, I'm going to deny it, yes, you are one of the sharpest knives in the drawer here, but you are the only black person in here and this office is not ready for an African‑American GS12 supervisor.

So on the road to Damascus, I decided to change career fields to equal opportunity and get a job reviewing federal contractors affirmative action programs in Indiana.  And after two years of trying I got the job, but I had to lateral to a GS11 position in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  And I wondered why it was so hard.  I later learned that the director, he had made it difficult for me because, and I quote, he could not use crippled people in his program.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Getting worse as we go along.

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: Yes, so despite his misgivings, I got into the EEO field.  I had to move three more times to Chicago and then back to Indianapolis, but through it all, I persevered, performed in excellence, became a rising star and landed the top career policy job over the national program at the Pentagon and I had policy oversight over guess who, that dubious official who thought I did not have the right stuff to do the job based on my disability.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  I love it!  I love that!  God has his way.

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: I agree with that one, Joyce, amen.  And I also furthered my education at the American University as a conditional student since I had a 10‑year‑old undergraduate degree in biology.  They told me I was conditional and I had to make a B average in my first four courses, but I'm happy to tell you, Joyce, that I earned a master's in public administration degree from American University with a 3.8 average, and was inducted into the Phi Alpha Alpha National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration.  Additionally, I was one of the first D.O.D. civilians with a disability complete the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Washington, D.C. and the Law Enforcement College in Norfolk, Virginia.  So my attitude was in the great philosopher who said I don't want nobody giving me nothing.  Just open the door and I will get it myself.

So, Joyce, permit me a modest display of ego to summarize my career in D.O.D. by telling you I'm deeply humble.  At 12 years from the first day I started as a GS5, I became a GS16 and charter member of the

senior executive service, and my permanent career job was principal director for D.O.D. military and civilian equal opportunity programs and I was the ranking career EO official at the Pentagon for 23 years for responsibility for the programs affecting our 2.7 active duty military, and reserve personnel as well as our over 680,000 civilians within D.O.D. worldwide.

I also had followed the oversight responsibility for the defense equal opportunity management institution.  It's the largest equal opportunity training program in the nation, and it's located at Patrick Air Force base, Florida.  I was able to retire as the acting deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for equal opportunity from the undersecretary of defense for readiness at the Pentagon in 2002 after a blessed 35 year‑career with D.O.D., and, Joyce, the rest is black history.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  I will tell you, that is the greatest story.  That is, here they were, discriminating against you, and look where you went, not only supervising, look what you are in, affirmative action.  I love it!  But look at the level, you know, you are very humble, but I have got to tell you, Clay, you deserve every single thing you got for your perseverance, hard work, your intellect, your passion, you are absolutely an example for other people with disabilities because you know what I love, know pity.  No pity.  You went for it, you got it, and that is so, just so inspiring to me.  If you are listening to this show, hey, if you don't want this man to speak for you somewhere, something is wrong, because I know I'm going to get all of these calls from listeners, because this was just so absolutely inspiring, and then after all of this that he is telling you, he became very well known in the disability community, very well known.

I told you, this is how I met him because he was appointed by President Clinton and Tony Coelho to the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities and then that great accomplishment, the cap work force recruitment changed the lives of so many people with disabilities working for the federal government.  I wonder if you wouldn't mind sharing what you did and what those programs are.

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: Yes, ma'am, and let me say, Joyce, you are an astute interviewer, you are just peeping into my soul and I appreciate that.  And this one is a very important question, because the renowned D.O.D. computer accommodations program or CAMP and the federal work force recruitment program or the WRP, they are two pillars of a five ground breaking pillar program which made up the first D.O.D. disability employment programs.  I started about 40 years ago.

Now, I personally performed all of the duties of a disability program manager for two years simply as a labor of love because I thought I had a purpose, a purpose to use my talent on behalf of other individuals with disabilities, and I did this in addition to all of my other SES functions because I didn't have the assigned staff for the function.  So let me get to your two items by looking at these five flagship pillars that I'm talking about in sequence.

The first one circa 180 was if you believe it or not, the development of the first Secretary of Defense disability policy.  And the second was the D.O.D. Secretary of Defense of Disability Awards Ceremony and this was inaugurated in 1981.  And you know why?  Because when I went into all of the other programs where people were getting awards, I never saw a person with a disability.  And so the program today also includes our wounded warriors.  And awards are also presented to our D.O.D. agencies for their outstanding efforts to increase the employment of people with disabilities, and to promote competitions for these awards by the agency, I can see the Secretary of Defense 2% goal to move from the goal from 1% to 2% of the D.O.D. work force.  The reason I think I was successful because I made the case to my upper management that it makes sense for us to double this employment because we are a department where you can become disabled in defense of your country.

I'm delighted to tell you too that EEOC recently has adopted the D.O.D.2% goal so that the federal government can increase its employment of people with targeted disabilities from their abysmal 1% to 2% in terms of civilian employment and people with targeted disabilities.  I can tell you I returned to the Pentagon in 2015, and they gave me the opportunity to serve as keynote speaker for this program that I had actually developed 35 years ago.  And it was an exhilarating experience.  You know, most people they can't even go back to where they work to even say hello, and I came back to that kind of welcome.

The third pillar which was very important was to hire the first GS15D.O.D. Disability employment program manager.  As this years of doing the work myself, but I only got it approved because I later found out that the executive who approved it had a grown son with an intellectual disability.  So you never know who will be on your side, but the one thing you do know is anybody can have a disability sooner or later or a family member.  So I announced this job at a level where I could ensure the inclusion of candidates with targeted disabilities and Joyce let me tell you something, in 1983 I was fortunate to hire somebody that you probably know the late great Judy Dillium.  She was a Phi Bata Kappa graduate.  She was paralyzed from the neck down when she fell in her home and struck her neck on a kitchen stool.

I can't dress myself, I can't walk up a flight of stairs, I can't pick up a glass of water, but I can work.  And, Joyce, work she did.  With pioneering Secretary of Defense reasonable accommodations of twin voice activated computers, one in her nursing home room, one at the Pentagon, a personal assistant, a new flexible procedure I created which allowed her to work at home during inclement weather for 25 years she was indeed an inspirational champion for people with disabilities in D.O.D. and her work was consistently characterized by high productivity and superior quality.  She left a wonderful legacy.

Joyce, this brings me to my fourth pillar, the one you were talking about, the CAMP program.  Based on my ground breaking experience with Judy came our shared dream, let's find out if we can have free reasonable accommodations for all D.O.D. employees with disabilities free of charge.  So circa 1989, we are now this program to take it cost to much.  That's no longer true.  When I went to the military schools, I learned something about the D.O.D. budgetary process and I was able to use that process to start CAP which is the largest assistive technology program in the whole world with $10.7 million and personnel spaces.  In 1990 I was fortunate enough to hire another incomparable disability champion the late Dina Cohen.  She had a disability also as CAP's first GS15 director.

And I will tell you, due in large part to Dina's work as well as the dynamic work of her deputy, Ms. Sharon Terrell Lindsay, for over 23 years, listen to these numbers, to date, over 63,000 individuals with disabilities have received over 154,000CAP accommodations to support and equip them in the workplace.  And, let me just tell you what's so amazing about CAMP.  In March 1997, vice president Gore gave CAP his hammer award for $70 million in annual savings based on innovative and effective automation initiative.

When President Bush came to the Pentagon, President George W. Bush, he visited the CAP program.  So I think it's amazing to have a history with a program that has received benefits from both a president and a vice president of the United States of America.  And, Joyce, sincerely in the words of a favorite Michael Jackson song, like a sunset dying with the rising of the moon, Judy, and Donna are gone too soon, and I want to say rest in peace, my champions.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  I know.

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: This brings me to my fifth pillar, the work force recruitment program or the WRP.  I had this vision and led the expansion of the small Navy recruitment program for college students with disabilities from the Navy to D.O.D. and you know who started the Navy program, it was the eminent Paul Myers who also worked on the staff of the president's committee under Tony Coelho.

So 1995, right before you did, before you came, he appointed me to his executive board and this is where I met this industrious champion and trailblazer in terms of people with disabilities.  You know what I loved about Tony Coelho, when you made a good recommendation and if you worked it, he took it over and he helped you with it, so it was Tony Coelho, that said, okay, I like these programs, Clay, and I'm going to get legislation to make sure they can operate D.O.D. and federal government wide.  And he did that.  So the program is cosponsored by D.O.D. in the labor department and thanks to the staffs of both of these organizations, here are the numbers.

The WRP has hired over 7,000 college students with disabilities for summer jobs with D.O.D., other federal agencies using an annual funding source to pay salaries.  And many of these students have received permanent jobs so it is indeed gratifying.  When chairman Coelho selected me for the chairman's award also called the Justin Dart achievement award for my work on his executive board and specifically for my vision and leadership concerning the CAP and the WRP.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Before we go to our news break, I don't know if you realize how much you have done.  I mean, think about all of this.  CAP, accessibility accommodations in the federal government for no cost.  WRP, work force recruitment program, helping all of these young people with disabilities gain employment.  Targeting people, in other words, significant disabilities, and as a person who is blind in one eye and has cerebral palsy, you knew that people with significant disabilities like Judy had the hardest time and still do today getting jobs.

You have a legacy for what you have done, Clay.  That is truly ‑‑ how many people have even packed, just think I can't think of the number, but just what a great person, what a champion that you are.  And for one moment here, we have got to go to our news break called advocacy matters with Peri Jude Radecic from the Pennsylvania Disability Rights Network.  Peri, are you with us?

>> PERI JUDE RADECIC:  I am, Joyce.  And I have been listening to the show from the beginning, and Claiborne, what an incredible man you are.  Thank you for all you have done.

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: Thank you.

>> PERI JUDE RADECIC:  So, Joyce, Congress, we don't have much to report on Congress as they continue to try to organize their committees.  I have looked at legislation that's been introduced, bill numbers have been assigned, but the legislature hasn't released the text of the bills so I don't have much to report own in terms of our nation's capital which is they are trying to negotiate an end to the partial government shutdown.

We do have our state's legislatures and states are moving forward on employment first and state policy, and advocacy efforts continue on the employment of people with disabilities.  And advocates are always looking for ways to overcome the low rates of labor force participation by people with disabilities.

So one way advocates have done this is by advocating for full funding for our offices of vocational rehabilitation across the country.  And we do this because we know that the match for the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation is nearly 4 to 1.  That means for every state dollar budgeted for our Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, our United States government will match that dollar with nearly four dollars.  So that's a great deal.  For every dollar The Feds will give us 4 and that money goes to help employ people with disabilities.

But it takes state advocates pushing to draw down that full federal funding so that it matches our state dollars.  Advocates also work on employment first.  Employment first is a national movement, and what that means is that employment first should be competitive and integrated for all people regardless of disability and it should be considered first, and it should be the preferred outcome of publicly funded programs before sheltered workshops are considered.

So under employment first, it should be the first option that would be competitive and integrated employment is the first option before sheltered workshops.  So competitive and integrated employment means being employed at a minimum wage or better, and working or interacting with people without disabilities in the work force.  So how do you have employment first?  Well, you have to have an executive order from your governor or a state law.  Here in Pennsylvania we are lucky.  We have both.  We have an executive order from our Governor Wolf, and we have a state law.

So why would you need an executive order or state law?  Well, you need those kinds of orders or laws so that you can align state policies and state agencies to commit to that type of integrated competitive employment as a priority, and then set up those reimbursement structures for public funding.  Right now there are some 14 states with employment first legislation and 16 states with employment first executive orders.

But even after you get an employment first law or an employment first executive order, advocates in states still have work to do.  The work never ends.  Committees are established to oversee the work and coordination of these state agencies and to monitor implementation.  So that's what's happening in states across the country right now.  Advocates are working to fully fund the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation as states consider their budgets for the next fiscal year, and advocates are working on employment first, either to have employment first executive orders or legislation or to go on and monitor implementation in those states that already have employment first policies.

So advocacy matters, and it matters in employment.  And our advocates are doing a great job across the country, Joyce.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Well, that is awesome!  And, Peri, I really appreciate this, because we have got to continue to inspire people to be advocates no matter what is happening, and if you don't mind, Peri, on one of the shows, give us an update of what's going on in this country with sheltered workshops.

>> PERI JUDE RADECIC:  Absolutely.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  What is the website that you are at, Peri?

>> PERI JUDE RADECIC:  By the end of the day we will have a lot of information up about employment first as well says a map of where all of the states are with employment first if you visit DisabilityRightsPA.org.  That's DisabilityRightsPA.org.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Awesome.  Make a contribution also.  Thanks, Peri, thanks for being with us.

>> PERI JUDE RADECIC: Sure, no problem.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Clay, this is a thing we do is that they call in, you know, Disability Rights Network across the board and DRN, they call in to give us an update just on what's going on in the news to keep people listening to this show up to date.  So I always appreciate when she calls in.

Hey, I wanted to mention, and this is just unbelievable, but you have done a lot to mentor other people.  Now, Mr. Clarence Johnson is now key leader at D.O.D. over some of these programs and I know he thinks so highly of you and he is also being a trailblazer, but I wondered if you could talk about him for a moment.

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: Yes, ma'am.  Mr. Johnson is a member of the senior executive service, and today he is director of the D.O.D. diversity management operations center.  He is an accomplished leader.  He serves this country with distinction and retired as a colonel from the Air Force and he served as my director for military doing my time and when I retired he became my successor.  Mr. Johnson also works closely with another person who is Ms. Stephanie Miller.  She is the director of the D.O.D. office of diversity, equity and inclusion at the Pentagon.  She too is a distinguished member of the SES and she is a recipient of the D.O.D. Distinguished service medal.

Now, I haven't met her, but I was impressed with her speech at the October 2018D.O.D. Disability Awards Ceremony that I attended and also on her staff is the disability champion, the current director of D.O.D. disability policy and programs Mr. Randy Cooper.  So I'm confident, Joyce, that all of these key leaders will continue their outstanding work to keep D.O.D. on the cutting edge of people with disabilities and they are going to keep them alive and thriving as they have in the past and it is my fervent hope that sometime in the not too distant tomorrow they will help the D.O.D. and the federal government to achieve the 2% goal to employ individuals with serious disabilities.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  I believe that they will, and I believe you have had an impact on them because of how highly they think of you and I think all of the people you mentioned are truly champions, no question.  And, wow, we keep coming up with these things that are accolades, but this is one that really, really impressed me.  And because there are so many.  Unless we have five hours, I can't talk about all of them, but you had a 15,000 plus volume library named after you and I just, I just think that's unbelievable.  I mean, that is so awesome.

Would you say that, well, what did that mean to you?

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: Well, Joyce, I have had an amazing career full of significant awards and I joke around.  D.O.D. was at the side of my office where I was located is leaning due to the plaques and awards on my wall.  I'm still reeling from the kind words and awards received from over 460 wonderful people who jammed the officers' club at the Air Force base for my retirement ceremony luncheon in June 2002.  And so I just want to give all glory to God for all of these honors.  I will always be grateful to the orphanage moment, my former bosses; great staffs and specifically to the men and women in uniform all over the world for all they do to help keep our nation secure and free.  And I will always be grateful to D.O.D. for giving me, a person who is African‑American with disabilities, a rewarding 35‑year career dedicated to achievement of equality, diversity and inclusion while at the same time serving my country.

Let me say it this way, Joyce, today, here I stand, 52 years later, after starting as a GS5, Claiborne, U.S.D.O.D. civilian retired.  The second highest award for member of the FTS.  The highest D.O.D. medal and as you said, the defense equal management awards in my honor.  Awards that represent the groups of diversity of America and recipient of the 2015 Outstanding Alumnae Award, Lifetime Award from both of my almamaters, Dillard and American University.

And, Joyce, you know, I'm on the floor for about one half hour a day working on my six pack abs to look like Tom Cruise, and Usher; the problem is my work hasn't taken yet.  You know, there comes a time, Joyce, when for all of us, there will be a time when your luxurious head of hair and your girlie figures will have gone and left no forwarding address, my message is this, going through the motions I have lost seven pounds and my message, never give up, never give up.

And, Joyce, the most transformative achievement in my career and the one that I give and get the most personal pride is being the father of the five pillared D.O.D. Disability Program for Individuals with Disabilities.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  All I can say is what I told you at the beginning, which is Wow!

That's the only thing I can say.  I just am so proud to know you, Clay, I am so proud to know you.  By the way, you know how you said you always wanted people with targeted disabilities.  You mentioned Mr. Randy Cooper, also a person who is blind.  So there you go.  You kept everything going.  And I know that he is, does a fabulous job and is a great person.  So you did, you really did keep that going.  You never stopped.

So, Clay, before we go today, I want you to tell everyone about your company.

>> Well, I will tell you, Joyce, for 16 years I have been the president of the company as a motivational speaker and executive coach.  I have delivered over 500 presentations, national and internationally, but what I enjoy the most and I spent two‑thirds of my time using the podium as a bully pulpit speaking at federal agencies, National Disability Employment Awareness Month because I want as many as possible to mirror the five pillar D.O.D. disability program.  And one of the things I also try to do is I don't talk on this topic without also dealing with the responsibilities with people with disabilities.

We too must remember that life is hard by the yard but inch by inch, it's a cinch.  And if you can't be a pine on the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley, but be the best of the shrubs on the side of the hill.  If you can't be the sun, be a star.  It's by signs that you win or you fail, be the best of whatever you are.  And I tell my audience, do not read a book by its cover when it comes to people with disabilities because anything that so‑called able people can do, people with disabilities can just about do too.

And I tell them for the pages of history, they are full of stories of undaunted men and women who have triumphed over disability and adversity to demonstrate victorious spirit and when you flex your muscles in front of morning mirror, remember the light of the mirror was per inspected by a person with a disability.  While your morning radio plays, remember the persons with disabilities who helped to invent this.  If you like classical music you could hear a symphony written by a composer who could hardly hear.

A former American president who set a 12 year unbeatable record could hardly work.  A woman born unable to see, speak or hear stands out as one of the greatest achievers in American history.  So people with disabilities have enriched the lives of all Americans and we can do so much more when given the opportunity, and when we do not let their incredible talents go to waste.  In my company as a mentor and sponsor, executive coach, I am so glad that over the years I have increased my numbers to about 125 of the people I have helped to become GS15's, and members of the senior executive service.

And another thing that I do that you have interest in, I continue to promote the contents of highly praised D.O.D. publications on African‑Americans and women and Hispanics in defense of our nation that I actually served as program manager and executive editor, you see, I firmly believe in this African proverb, that says until the lion tells his side of the story the tail of the hunt will glorify the hunter.  Let me encourage you because I heard you to go ahead and make an archive where all it takes of this wonderful radio program you have of all of these incredible people with disabilities you have on, and get all of these programs set up for posterity.

I think that is so very, very important.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  I think that is a great idea, because from Senator Harkin to Tony Coelho, to Valerie Jared, to CEOs, to Judy, Anthony Parato, Ted Kennedy junior, but we have, like 13 years, and by the way, if you want to hear Clay again, it's on demand, you can get it from iTunes, you can go to my website, Benderconsult.com, and you can get this.  And I would it and share it because how powerful is it?  Clay, if they want to reach you, how do they reach you?

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: They can reach me the best thing would be by phone 703‑587‑5496.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  And can they reach you on Facebook or Linked In.

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: Yes, on both Facebook and Linked In.  Thank you.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  And I know I'm going to be telling everyone about you, but, of course, a lot of people are hearing about you right now.  And as I said, I am just so proud of you, so blessed to know you.  So, Clay, in closing, look what you have done, so much.  Someone had to be a major role model, and who would that be?

>> CLAIBORNE HAUGHTON, JR: My major role model would be Dr. Martin Luther King Junior is at the top of my list.  And Joyce, although the legal holiday is next Monday, you have selected me for this Monday on the actual date of his birthday, which is today.  And on that hyphen between January 15, 1929 and April 4, 1968, he left a committed life behind.  And Dr. King in just 13 years of organized and unviolent resistance, he achieved more genuine freedom for African‑Americans than the previous three centuries produced.  And I sincerely believe that that is a wonderful testament to his love for freedom and justice.

So, Joyce, as an African‑American, my joy hugs my joy when I reflect upon his life and legacy and how he inspired me.  And, you know, and my other person who is on the top of my list as a role model is the illustrious disability champion and the author of the A.D.A., Tony Coelho.  They broke into American history like burglars bringing with them the gifts of vision, passion and truth in the struggle to achieve access, transportation, jobs, justice for America's largest minority group, the 54 million Americans with disabilities, too many of whom for too long have been left out and shut out.

So it's momentous that thanks to him he was able to do the work so that President George H.W. Bush signed that A.D.A. in 1990, and I was one of those thousands of Americans with disabilities on the White House lawn during the signing ceremony.  I thank Mr. Coelho for his authorship and his hard work on the passage.  I also want to remember and thank President Bush for signing the A.D.A., which I consider the most enduring legacy of his presidency.  So rest in peace, Mr. President.

And, Joyce, let me close by saying that, you know, the A.D.A. still holds the promise to make every day Independence Day for people with disabilities and there has been so wonderful much progress in these 28 years, but, again, despite this tremendous progress, we still have work to do, because the progress under the A.D.A. is fragile, it's reversible.  If we do not remain vigilant and proactive.  For example, today there is an arbitrary and capricious movement afoot to repeal the A.D.A., but during my 23 years in government, I still have hope for the future, for our nation, and for liberty and justice for Americans with disabilities because as Dr. King said, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.  Thank you so much for inviting me.

>> JOYCE BENDER:  Well, then you know what, we end every show with a quote, and guess what it is today?  It is darkness cannot drive out darkness.  Only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate.  Only love can do that said the great Dr. Martin Luther King Junior.  This is Joyce Bender, America's voice where "Disability Matters" at VoiceAmerica.com.  Talk to you next week.

 

***

This text, document, or file is based on live transcription.  Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), captioning, and/or live transcription are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.  This text, document, or file is not to be distributed or used in any way that may violate copyright law.

***