The family of former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Republican congressman, vice-presidential candidate and professional football player Jack F. Kemp (1935-2009) has announced its intention to donate his papers to the Library of Congress. The papers are currently on deposit at Pepperdine University.
Born in Los Angeles, Kemp began playing professional football in 1957. He led the Buffalo Bills to American Football League championships in 1964 and 1965. Following his football career, he served nine terms in Congress (1971-1988) as a representative from New York and also served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (1989-1993).
During his years in Congress, Kemp was a leading advocate of “supply-side” economics, advancing the argument that cutting taxes would boost economic growth and yield more revenue for the federal government. The 1981 tax cuts signed into law by former President Ronald Reagan were cosponsored by Kemp. He was the first lawmaker to popularize “enterprise zones,” the concept of encouraging development in underserved urban neighborhoods by offering entrepreneurs and investors both tax and regulatory relief to start businesses in the area. Kemp supported this approach in order to foster entrepreneurship and job creation and to expand homeownership among public-housing tenants.
In 1988, Kemp mounted an unsuccessful bid for the presidency, losing the Republican primaries to George H.W. Bush. Once in office, Bush appointed Kemp to his cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a position he held until 1993. Senator Bob Dole chose Kemp as his 1996 running mate in the race against Democrats Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
In his later career, Kemp remained active in political and charitable work. He served as director of numerous corporate and nonprofit boards, including Oracle, Hawk Corp., Speedway Motorsports, Habitat for Humanity and the Howard University Board of Trustees. He also served on several advisory boards such as Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy and the UCLA School of Public Policy. In 2003, he was selected as chairman of the board of USA Football, a national advocacy group for amateur football, created by the National Football League (NFL) and the NFL Players Association.
Kemp, who died of cancer on May 2, 2009, was awarded posthumously the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama on Aug. 12, 2009.
Most of the collection covers Kemp’s 18 years in Congress, including records pertaining to Watergate and the Reagan administration’s economic agenda. The records of his bids for the presidency and vice-presidency are also included, as are those from his tenure at HUD. Personal records include family photographs, coverage of his retirement from Congress and remembrances of his life and work in the aftermath of his death. His writings and a large personal library are also included, along with photographs and video from Kemp’s football career.