The following is a copy of a speech by Jim Hunt, former and longest-serving governor of North Carolina, at the Democratic National Convention.
I want to welcome you all to North Carolina—and tell you a story about our state.
You've seen the skyscrapers and all Charlotte has to offer. Maybe you've heard about our Research Triangle Park. Maybe your children attended one of our great universities. We're proud of all that, because we made that possible in North Carolina. And let me tell you how.
Fifty years ago, this was a poor state—poor, rural, and rigidly segregated. But we had a governor named Terry Sanford—a hero of mine. He was courageous. He broke with most southerners in 1960, and endorsed John F. Kennedy. When other southern governors "stood in the schoolhouse door," Terry Sanford stood up for civil rights. He worked with business leaders, political, and education leaders to build our great universities, our 58 community colleges and our public schools. The result is our high-tech, thriving economy that you see today. Together, we in North Carolina did that—and we're proud of it.
Twenty years ago, I ran for a third term as governor. I'd retired from politics, but I came back because I knew that economic growth and good jobs depend on a good education, and I wanted to make sure a good education was available to every child in this state.
We did extraordinary things in the next eight years. We built one of the best early childhood education programs in America called "Smart Start." We raised standards for what students need to know. Raised professional standards for teachers and raised teacher pay by 35 percent in just four years.
Teachers have the hardest and most important jobs in America. They're building our nation. And we should appreciate them, respect them, and pay them well. Well, let me tell you what's happened here.
Last year, students born nearly 20 years ago in 1993, finished high school with the highest graduation rate in our history. They'd gone through Smart Start. They'd had great teachers. And companies want to come here to North Carolina to hire them. That's what we did in North Carolina.
We are doers in this state. We build for the future. We want leaders who are doers. And in Barack Obama, we have a great education president who is rebuilding America. His Race to the Top program is doing more to "spur us" to improve our public schools than anything we've ever done as a nation.
In the depth of the near depression, that he faced when he came in, Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress provided "recovery funds" that literally kept our classrooms open. Two years ago, these funds saved nearly 20,000 teacher and education jobs—just here in North Carolina. That's an average of nearly 200 per county. He has a huge focus on improving early childhood education, so every child starts school healthy and ready to learn. I say, "Ready to fly."
He's doubled funding for Pell grants. He beat back forces in Congress that wanted to double interest rates on college loans. He is investing $115 million new dollars in historically black colleges and universities, just in North Carolina. He's focused more on community colleges than any president in memory.
President Barack Obama is a doer. And we in America will do big things with him.
The other crowd doesn't get it. They say just cut taxes for the wealthiest, get rid of regulations and job growth will "happen by magic." Folks, magic didn't do it in North Carolina. This is not a time for America to "believe in magic."
This is a time to drive education forward. This is a time to drive the economy forward. This is a time to drive America forward. We must do it together. And we must re-elect Barack Obama as President of the United States. Thank you and god bless you all.