Bill Clinton's upcoming U of M appearance received more favorably than Condi Rice

Categories: Politics, U of M
Steven Cohen for City Pages
Clinton speaks at the University of Minnesota in October 2012.
On June 9, Bill Clinton will deliver a speech at Northrop Auditorium as part of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs' "Keeping Faith with the Legacy of Justice" series. The 42nd president will also accept the Dean's Award for Public Leadership.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, news of Clinton's appearance has been received much more favorably by liberal activists than former national security advisor and secretary of state Condoleezza Rice was before and during her appearance at the Northrop last month.

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Before Rice's speech, U of M math professor William Messing introduced a resolution in the University Senate calling for officials to cancel her appearance. (Messing told us he would do the same if President Obama were invited to campus -- he hasn't yet responded to an email seeking his thoughts on Clinton.) The resolution didn't go anywhere, but Rice's speech was greeted by about 200 protesters upset about how Rice "mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the existence of links between al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime," as Messing's resolution put it.

One of the Rice protest organizers was Students for a Democratic Society member Nick Theis. But Theis, who just graduated last weekend, says he doesn't sense the same level of consternation about Clinton's invite.

"I personally think there are better individuals than Bill Clinton to recieve this award, [but] some of the key people who supported the Condi Rice protest are fine with Clinton coming," Theis tells us.

We were also forwarded an email exchange between Chuck Turchick, an alumnus and continuing ed student who is critical of Clinton's invite, and Samuel Myers, a Humphrey School professor of human relations and social justice who decried Rice's invite to campus (read an open letter about Myers wrote about that topic here), but is fine with Clinton's appearance.

Here's part of what Myers wrote to Turchick:
While you point out the role that Clinton played in dismantling welfare and increasing the attack on drugs (begun under previous administrations), you neglect to reference the scholarly work demonstrating the sustained economic growth during the Clinton era and the narrowing of the racial gap in earnings. You fail to mention the dramatic increase in support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities under Clinton and the impacts that educational funding for minorities had on improving economic prospects for minority college graduates. You fail to mention the hiring rates in the Clinton Administration of women and minorities in positions of policy importance. You fail to mention the role that the Clinton Administration played in advocating for "mending affirmative action and not ending it" and other initiatives widely supported by the black community.

The Roy Wilkins Center, in this instance, is a proud co-sponsor of the event honoring a true friend and supporter of Civil Rights.
Whereas Rice was paid $150,000 for her appearance, all the proceeds from the $50-a-pop Clinton tickets will be donated to the U of M for "scholarships designed to promote diversity and inclusion in the spirit of the Civil Rights Act," according to U of M info.

Some tickets are still available, but the event is nearly sold out as of this morning. If you're interested in attending, click here for more info.

Finally, if you'd like to read a book excerpt from Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow that Turchick cites in his email as outlining the reasons he's opposed to Clinton's appearance, click to page two.

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