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Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – Dean Skip Rutherford is spending today at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss. Dean Rutherford is having lunch with the student scholars from the Trent Lott Institute, speaking to a public policy class, meeting with faculty and staff and participating in a forum with students from Chancellor Robert Khayat’s Leadership Program.
Posted by student SANFORD JOHNSON – Thursday night I was in a packed stadium with over 80,000 screaming fans. The vast majority of us were cheering for the same team. As we expected, our team rose to the occasion, and energized the crowd in a remarkable fashion. As the night’s festivities came to a close, we filed out of the stadium with a great appreciation for what we just saw, along with a stronger commitment to supporting our team. People could be seen recounting the events on their cell phones, while other went on a mad dash for any souvenir that would prove that they were there to witness it.
Usually, the previous paragraph would be a good description of a football game in the Southeastern Conference. But this time, I’m speaking about the last night of the Democratic National Convention, where Senator Barack Obama accepted the presidential nomination at Invesco Field in Denver. As I described in my previous post, two close friends and I drove 16 hours overnight just to make it to Denver for this event. The following is my take on the experience, both from a political and a historical perspective.
Politically speaking, the final night of the convention was a fitting end to a four-day effort to rally the party behind the nominee. The first three nights were filled with speeches that enabled Democrats and other Americans to celebrate the historic party primary, understand what’s at stake this fall, and unite behind the nominee. As I stood in line, I came across people that would’ve preferred to have Senator Hillary Clinton as the nominee. But after three days of the convention, including great speeches from Michelle Obama and the Clintons, these Hillary supporters were ready to support Obama, or at least give Obama the opportunity to earn their support later that night.
My take on Obama’s acceptance speech might not be a shining example of fair and balanced reporting. The Illinois senator has been my BFF for quite some time now. Having said that, I feel that he met each objective he needed to in his acceptance speech. He reached out to Clinton supporters, energized his own supporters, and spoke about his policy positions in a clear and specific way. He also went after Republican candidate John McCain, which really fired up the crowd (imagine 80,000 people saying “ooooooooh” with each one-liner). Obama’s mission was to combine his master oratory skills with policy specifics that would highlight his readiness to be president. I think he was two for two.
But while this was a major political event, we drove to Denver to witness history. Eighty-four thousand people celebrated the 45th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by seeing an African American accept a major party presidential nomination for the first time. There were entire families that came from all across the country to see this, which added a family reunion feel to the night. I can’t even begin to describe the emotion felt in that stadium when the entire Obama family stood on that stage. What I enjoyed the most, however, were the older African Americans that were in attendance. Each and every one I saw walked out of the stadium with expressions of pure joy, as if they had witnessed something they never thought would happen in their lifetime.
My wife and I will have children one day, and they’ll grow up in an America where it won’t be that big of a deal for a woman or an African American to run for President. But one day, they’ll come home from school and ask me if I remember when Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination. I’m excited that I’ll get to say “Do I remember!?!?! Kids, I was there!”
Posted by student CHAD WILLIAMSON – Wow…another great day in Little Rock as a Clinton School student. What an opportunity we all had today as we visited Little Rock Central High School National Historic site (compliments of our classmate, Spirit Trickey-Rowen). What we considered to be a day off from classes ended up being a fabulous lesson in itself.
After touring the visitor’s center and the high school, we were privileged to have a private conversation with a legend in her own right, a member of the Little Rock Nine, Minnijean Brown-Trickey. She educated us on the past, as well as the present challenges, and in essence, gave us a charge to make a difference in the world. Her authenticity was palpable and her passion infectious. Although we had no “official” class today, we were truly schooled by not only a past, but a present day hero. Many thanks to Spirit, Krystal, and our professor for the day, Minnijean Brown-Trickey. What a great experience!
Spirit Trickey-Rowen lectures her classmates at the Central High National Historic Site where she works as a park ranger.
The Clinton School students in front of historic Little Rock Central High School.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – The newest class of 30 Clinton School students heads to Fayetteville tomorrow for a luncheon, campus tour and football game at the University of Arkansas. Here’s an item that appeared in the UA’s e-newsletter this morning:
Thirty new students entering the Master of Public Service degree program at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock will be on campus at the University of Arkansas this weekend for a luncheon, campus tour and the football game. Two of the students are graduates of the University of Arkansas. Alejandro Aviles (‘08) earned a bachelor’s in sociology and Lindsey Barnett (’04) earned a bachelor’s in anthropology, both from the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.
CLICK HERE to read more.
Check the Clinton School Blog on Sunday for some pictures and highlights of the trip.
Posted by student TODD MOORE –
“The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” –Lao Tzu.
Orientation week for Class 4 students clearly established a road map to the ‘thousand mile journey’ we have ahead of us over the next 18 months. The faculty and staff exposed our cohort to a variety of spectacular sights and sounds during the six-day orientation week. From meeting with the chancellor of the University of Arkansas Medical School to a reception hosted by Dean Skip Rutherford, class 4 students were – to state it mildly – impressed. I captured a few thoughts from my classmates that might help to describe our apparent transcendence, with my own commentary following.
“The first day was awesome! When we did introductions, hearing about everyone and their incredible experiences, I got an immediate sense of the high level of our class.” -Ali Turro
On the first day of orientation, Dean Rutherford asked each of us to give brief introductions, something we soon discovered would happen often over the next ‘hundred miles’ or so. We are a diverse class, ranging from teachers to law students, hockey players to heating and air conditioning engineers – a very impressive group.
“The Travelers Game was a highlight. I am a huge baseball fan and it was the class’s first official activity.” -John Memmer
Faculty and staff joined us for an Arkansas Travelers baseball game on Monday night. Though it was a high scoring game with many exciting plays (Travelers lost 8-3), few of us paid close attention to the on-field action, choosing instead to keep the chatter among ourselves. The BBQ nachos and discovering Ali Turro’s college roommate was at my wedding highlighted my evening, though an interesting ‘dialogue’ on whether hockey or basketball was a tougher sport competed for a top spot. Speaking of BBQ…
“Though not an official event, the BBQ was a highlight. It was a good way to meet people informally before the start of orientation.” -Beatrice Biira
A Clinton School first! Under the guidance of Josh Stokes, Chad Williamson, and others, a pre-orientation BBQ was held at Murray Park. Most of our classmates made it out, including significant others and pets. Though a short downpour may have dampened our clothes and muddied our shoes, it did not dampen the spirit and energy of the evening.
“I was really impressed with Dr. Stewart and with the school of public health. Her passion was inspirational.” -Julianne Dunn
We received a double dip of Katherine Stewart, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the Masters of Public Health program. On Tuesday, she joined representatives from the Walton School of Business the Bowen School of Law to discuss the concurrent degree programs available to Clinton students. Then Friday, Dean Stewart gave an impassioned presentation on the impact of behavioral health research and practice at the UAMS tour. I think she missed her true calling – selling ice to Eskimos.
“Playing kickball showed we can connect on more levels than just our love for public service.” -Dimas Espinola
Another Clinton School first! Class 4 is ready to blaze new trails in community engagement, and kickball dominance. A rousing first game shut out of our opponents (see Dean Rutherford’s glowing post on this victory) 8-0. A three-run homer by Chad Williamson in the first inning set the stage for the offensive frenzy that ensued. The defense played with mid-season form in holding the team from Ciao Bacci (a local restaurant) to three total base runners in five innings. Not too bad for a bunch of Students Of Bill.
”Good job of providing an overview of expectations; great synopsis of the year.” -Harvell Howard
“At first pretty intimidating, but it eventually made sense.” -Olivia Wilmot
“Orientations are always challenging, but Joe did a great job.” -Nick Hall
Joe Ballard, did an incredible coordinating so many moving parts. We came in with a ton of questions, concerns, and preconceptions about the school and the curriculum. Orientation week did a solid job of providing us with a strong foundation for the upcoming semester and beyond. Like Sgt. Hulka in the movie Stripes, Joe provided the “wretched refuse” with leadership and guidance this week; clearly he is our ‘big toe’ on our journey of a thousand miles. Thanks Joe.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – The 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was commemorated today with a series of events at the Clinton Presidential Center. King delivered the famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in conjunction with the 1963 March on Washington.
More than 200 attendees, many of them school children, were on hand for a series of film screenings, as well as two showings of a “Tribute to the March on Washington: an Entertainment Celebration,” featuring special guests Gracie Carter of Little Rock, who participated in the 1963 march, and Andrew Withers, son of the late Ernest Withers of Memphis, a noted civil rights photographer. The commemoration was sponsored by the Clinton School, the William J. Clinton Foundation and The College of Aspiring Artists (TCAA).
The event was led by TCAA director Arthur L. Hunt Jr. and also included remarks from Clinton School Dean Skip Rutherford who offered a tribute to Ernest Withers, calling him, “The greatest civil rights photographer of our time.”
Several of Withers’ most famous photographs were also on display for viewing.
Photos by ERIC WILSON:
A group of American Taekwondo Association students enjoyed the program.
Andrew Withers, son of the late civil rights photographer Ernest Withers, spoke at the event.
Ernest Withers’ famous photography was on display.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – It’s always great to hear what our Clinton School alumni are doing since graduating from the nation’s first Master of Public Service degree program. We just heard from Octave Ellis, a member of our most recent graduating class, who has recently landed a job working in human resources for the District of Columbia Court System. Ellis is in charge of recruiting for the court system. In his spare time, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Organization Psychology. Congrats to Octave.
Posted by ERIC WILSON – Clinton School student Sanford Johnson will be among the 75,000 in Denver tonight. This is a photograph from last night’s rehearsal at INVESCO field at Mile High.
Posted by student SANFORD JOHNSON – My bags are packed, I’m fired up, and ready to go!! Along with two of my Obama-backing buds, I’m heading to Denver to hear Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at Invesco Field. We will drive all night, and we hope to get to Denver sometime before lunch.
Such a road trip isn’t out of the norm for me. I drove eight hours to Houston (with my future father-in-law) to propose to Amanda at a jazz club that we went to as Teach For America corps members-in-training. I’ve also taken several road trips around the southeastern U.S. to cheer on my Auburn Tigers. When opportunity knocks, I open the door, and turn the key!
There are two major reasons why I’m so excited to make this trip. For starters, I’ve never been to a national convention before. I’ve always wanted to be in the convention hall to see the political leaders, cheer for the speakers, and put as many buttons on my shirt as possible.
Secondly, and most importantly, Obama’s acceptance speech will be a very important moment in American history. In recent years, we’ve celebrated the anniversaries of the Brown v. Board decision, the desegregation of Little Rock Central, and several other important events. Forty-three years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, seeing an African American accept the nomination of a major party was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up. I’ve often asked my parents and other relatives to share their involvement or reaction to historical events. One day, I’ll have the honor of telling my kids about the time I went to Denver to see Barack Obama accept the party nomination.
And off I go…