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曾服务过11位美国总统的白宫管家感染新冠去世

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杰曼在白宫见证了美国从种族隔离到黑人民权运动兴起,最终又亲眼看到一位和自己一样的有色人种成为白宫的主人。

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曾在11位美国总统手下工作过的白宫前管家威尔逊·罗斯福·杰曼(Wilson Roosevelt Jerman)在感染新冠病毒后不幸去世,享年91岁。

“杰曼先生是一位可爱的人,”前总统小布什和妻子劳拉在声明里强调。“他是我们早上离开时在白宫见到的第一个人,也是我们晚上回来时最后看到的人。”

据美国媒体报道,生于1929年的杰曼小时候家庭条件并不富裕。那个年代正好是经济大萧条时期。他的孙女(Jamila Garrett)回忆说,杰曼从小就没有鞋穿,还要走6英里(约10公里)路上学。

12岁时,杰曼便辍学去农场打工,之后搬到华盛顿做宴会服务生,最终在1957年被白宫录用。他最先服务的总统是艾森豪威尔,当时杰曼担任的是清洁工。

在1950年代,一位黑人能被白宫聘为家政服务人员是件令人兴奋的大事。《华盛顿邮报》前记者(Wil Haygood)称,为了庆祝这次聘任,杰曼就参加过好几次在华盛顿的聚会。

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到了肯尼迪时代,杰曼被当时的第一夫人杰奎琳·肯尼迪提拔为白宫管家。孙女加勒特说,杰曼为自己的工作感到非常自豪,每天都是衣冠楚楚地去上班,鞋子和吊裤带都擦得锃亮。

和许多长期在白宫的工作人员一样,杰曼严格保护美国第一家庭的隐私。他常对其他人表示自己在宾夕法尼亚大道1600号(即白宫门牌号)工作,而大概99%的人不知道那是个什么地方。“他们会问‘那是什么仓库?还是什么楼?’”杰曼在采访中回忆说。“我会回复说那是在市中心。”

但在1960年代美国种族分裂时期,杰曼受到很多和自己一样的黑人、尤其是年轻黑人的攻击,后者极度蔑视白宫的服务人员。据记者海伍德介绍,杰曼不止一次听到别人叫他“汤姆叔叔”(即美国小说《汤姆叔叔的小屋》中对白人主人忠心耿耿的黑人奴隶),这让杰曼很受伤。
杰曼的尽职尽责也的确赢得了白宫各位总统的信任。1966年,当杰曼先妻子格拉迪斯患上严重的狼疮病时,时任总统林登·贝恩·约翰逊特意派出私人医生协助治疗,把龙虾和菲力牛排从白宫厨房送到杰曼家中。

前第一夫人希拉里·克林顿在Twitter上表示:“杰曼担任过11任总统的白宫管家,让几代第一家庭都感到宾至如归,包括我们一家。”

杰曼的另一位孙女透露称,杰曼于5月16日在弗吉尼亚州离世。“在成长过程中,他从不讨论政治,”盖伊说。“也从不以共和党或民主党来评判,都是独立地看待某个人,向某个人学习。”

1997年起,杰曼原本已从白宫退休,但又在2003年以74岁的高龄返回白宫任兼职领班至2012年,他最后一位服务的总统是奥巴马。据孙女盖伊回忆,当时离开白宫时,奥巴马赠予他一系列纪念品,象征着他服务过的历任总统。

这也意味着,杰曼在白宫见证了美国从种族隔离到黑人民权运动兴起,见证美国总统任命首位黑人最高法院大法官(1967年马歇尔)和首位黑人国务卿(2001年鲍威尔),最终又亲眼看到一位和自己一样的有色人种成为白宫的主人。

《从奴隶小屋到白宫》(From Slave Cabins to the White House)一书的作者Koritha Mitchell评价道,他在为数不多可选择的职位上展现出了尊严,见证了历史之后,“他一定是带着满足离开了白宫,就像获得胜利一样凯旋。”

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米歇尔·奥巴马发表声明称:“威尔逊·杰曼以他的仁慈和关怀让白宫成为几十年来美国第一家庭的家,也包括我们……他愿意为他所爱的国家和他生活中接触的所有人付出超越一切的努力。我们很幸运能认识他。巴拉克和我向他的家人送上我们最诚挚的爱和祈祷。”

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