WOOSTER, Ohio – Governor Mike DeWine recited and reflected upon the wise words of College of Wooster alumnus William McCulloch ‘23, who is credited by historians as one of the nation’s most powerful leaders of the civil rights movement, during his daily press conference on Tuesday.
DeWine’s regular press briefings have been reserved for Ohio’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, but in recent days, he has also included the state’s reaction and his personal thoughts on the death of George Floyd, ensuing protests, and next steps to a more just society. And, McCulloch has been at the forefront of his mind.
“Over the last several days, I’ve been reminded of former Congressman William McCulloch’s words upon passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act,” said DeWine. After providing background info on the long-serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio’s 4th district (1947-73), the governor explained McCulloch’s stance that while “legislation was so very important … life is not changed by laws alone, but how people live with those laws.”
DeWine then repeated McCulloch’s powerful lines: “How do you tear hatred and suspicion out of the heart of a man? No statutory law can completely end discrimination. Intelligent work and vigilance by members of all races will be required for many years before discrimination completely disappears.”
Unfortunately, McCulloch’s words are still applicable more than 50 years later, as DeWine closed Tuesday’s press conference by saying “We have work to do … This is really a moment in history, and it is our time to act.”
“How do you tear hatred and suspicion out of the heart of a man? No statutory law can completely end discrimination. Intelligent work and vigilance by members of all races will be required for many years before discrimination completely disappears.”
McCulloch, born in Holmes County, attended Wooster from 1921-23 and the College awarded him a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1965 as well as an honorary doctorate in 1969. During his time in Congress, he was a ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and played a crucial role in Congress passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Today, there are statues of McCulloch and another civil rights leader—President Abraham Lincoln—on each side of a main entryway inside Andrews Library on the Wooster campus. McCullouch’s statue was donated in 2016 by James Dicke, II, a longtime friend of the College.