MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Former President Bill Clinton was in town Monday to accept the Dean’s Award for Public Leadership from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

The event was part of the Humphrey School’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Fifty years ago, Hubert Humphrey carried a bill to lift the last great stain on American history,” the former president said.

He said without the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he would have never been elected president.

“The logic of the Civil Rights Act was to create an inclusive America,” Clinton said.

He spoke from the podium that carries Hubert Humphrey’s name.

“What we have in common is more important,” Clinton said, “and therefore when we insist on dominating another person…when we insist on living like that, we imprison ourselves.”

Clinton said Americans need to have a serious conversation about civil rights.

Activist and educator Dr. Josie Johnson agreed.

“Supremacy is deeply etched in the fabric of American life,” she said, “and until we can talk about that without guilt or shame, we will always exercise that sense of less than and greater than.”

Proceeds from his speech will go towards scholarships designed to promote diversity and inclusion, and it comes at a time when it is much needed.

In 2012, the racial makeup of the Humphrey School was 70 percent white and 7 percent black.

Graduation rates for black students at the University of Minnesota are at an all-time low.

Reg Chapman