J. William Fulbright

“Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations.”

J. William Fulbright was a prominent American statesman of the 20th century. His unmatched contributions to international affairs and his tenure as the longest-serving chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee distinguish his political career of over thirty years in the United States Congress. His vision for mutual understanding shaped the extraordinary exchange program bearing his name.

Fulbright was born in 1905 in Sumner, Missouri. He earned his B.A. in political science from University of Arkansas in 1925, and subsequently attended Oxford University. When Fulbright returned to the United States, he studied law at George Washington University. During the 1930s, he worked in the Justice Department and at Washington University Law School. He served as president of the University of Arkansas from 1939 to 1941; at that time, he was the youngest university president in the country.

Fulbright was awarded countless  accolades from governments, universities and institutions of education worldwide for his efforts in the name of education and international empathy. In 1993, President Bill Clinton awarded Fulbright the Presidential Medal of Freedom. On February 9, 1995, Senator J. William Fulbright died in Washington, DC at the age of 89—leaving behind an extraordinary career through which he touched thousands of lives, and a formidable program that operates worldwide.

“It is a modest program with an immodest aim–the achievement in international affairs of a regime more civilized, rational and humane than the empty system of power of the past. I believed in that possibility when I began. I still do.”

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“The rapprochement of peoples is only possible when differences of culture and outlook are respected and appreciated rather than feared and condemned, when the common bond of human dignity is recognized as the essential bond for a peaceful world.”

Fulbright was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1942 and appointed to the Foreign Affairs Committee the following year. In September 1943, the House adopted the Fulbright Resolution to support an international peacekeeping mechanism, which encouraged United States’ participation in what later became the United Nations. His leadership on this issue drew national attention to the Congressman. In November 1944, he was elected to the Senate and served until 1974, becoming one of the most influential and well-regarded members of the Senate. From 1959 to 1974, he served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His proposed legislation established the Fulbright Program, which passed the Senate unanimously in 1946 and drew strength from the United States’ national commitment to engage constructively with the community of nations. The first participants in the Fulbright Program went overseas in 1948, funded by war reparations and foreign loan repayments to the United States.

This digital exhibition was prepared within the scope of the Turkish Fulbright Commission, by the Commission staff.

© 2020 – The Turkish Fulbright Commission