Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. to speak at Open VISIONS Forum of University College

Fairfield University's Open VISIONS Forum (OVF) of University College and the Fairfield University Student Association (FUSA) in collaboration with the Office of Student Diversity Programs co-sponsor the appearance of Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., chairman of the National Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) at the Quick Center for the Arts on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 8 p.m.

Congressman Ford spent a decade as a member of the United States House of Representatives and was a 2006 Senate candidate as a Tennessee Democrat. After narrowly losing his Senate bid, he continues to contribute to the advancement of the Democratic Party in his role as chairman of the DLC and as a regular political contributor to Fox News.

"Having the opportunity to dialogue with Harold Ford, especially in the midst of such a historic presidential campaign is incredibly exciting," said Dr. Yohuru Williams, Fairfield University associate professor of History and co-director of the Black Studies Program. He continued, "His extensive political background, grass roots organizing and leadership in the Democratic Party will provide a fertile ground to explore issues related to the environment, globalization, race relations and immigration essential to our understanding of American democracy in the 21st century."

Dr. Williams will join Dr. Philip Eliasoph, director and moderator of OVF and Congressman Ford onstage for a discussion following the congressman's lecture.

Time magazine called him "brash" when he challenged Nancy Pelosi in 2002 as leader of the House. And, in that same article, author Jack E. White distinguished "Ford and his fellow Generation X black politicians from their forebears in Congress..." by making the point, "it's the realism of their aspirations for higher offices... that older black politicians could only dream of."

Ford places enormous emphasis on every American's responsibility to participate in and contribute to the political process. In his lecture on Feb. 20, he will address the importance of leadership and the value of public service, particularly at this time in the nation's history. With this focus, Ford adopts two major tenets of the Jesuit mission.

In an April 2007 article entitled "It's Time for an Ideas Primary" for Blueprint Magazine, Ford wrote, "In a political atmosphere that values process over purpose, anyone who cares about ideas has a responsibility to remind everyone how much ideas matter. In our democracy, presidential elections are the best chance to set a bold new course."

As a congressman, he built a reputation on Capitol Hill as a consensus builder while serving on the House Budget Committee, the House Committee on Financial Services and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. His valuable experience on these committees fuels his commitment to energize and educate the populous.

His resolve is clear as stated in the same Blueprint Magazine article mentioned above. Displaying a perceptive insight into the far-reaching effects a thriving America will have on her future, Ford writes, "The core values of the New Democrat movement are the same as in 1992 when Clinton was elected president. We believe in equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. We believe in responsibilities as well as rights, and in every citizen's duty to give their country something back. We believe America must stand strong in a dangerous world, and America cannot be strong abroad unless opportunity and responsibility are strong at home."

Tickets are $45 and are available online at the Open VISIONS Forum website, or by calling the Quick Center Box Office at (203) 254-4010; toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950,

Posted on January 24, 2008

Vol. 40, No. 163

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