Juan Williams to Address Democracy Issues in Kent State Appearance

Return to Issue of April 28, 2008 

One of the nation’s leading journalists and political analysts, Juan Williams will speak at Kent State on April 30. Williams will address changing societal, educational and economic issues in the tradition of the university’s ongoing academic study of the rights and responsibilities of living in a democracy.

Journalist and political analyst Juan Williams will speak about changing societal, educational and economic issues at Kent State on April 30.

Journalist and political analyst Juan Williams will speak about changing societal, educational and economic issues at Kent State on April 30.

The university also announced the academic democracy symposium for spring of 2009, with the general theme of “media, memory and history.”

Williams’ presentation will be held at 1 p.m., Wednesday, April 30, in the Kent Student Center Kiva. His speech, titled “The Changing Face of America,” will explore the effects of the powerful mix of money, race and aging in the new century.

This major address is another in the university-sponsored series of annual discussions about issues relevant to the Kent State community and nation. Since 2000, these events — including democracy symposia, speakers and other academic activities — have served as a prelude to student-sponsored commemoration activities on May 3 and 4.

Williams spent 21 years at the Washington Post as an editorial writer, columnist and White House reporter. During 2000 and 2001, he hosted National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation, a national call-in show, to find how Americans were dealing with rapid changes in society and culture at the start of the 21st century.

In addition, Williams has written an acclaimed biography of Thurgood Marshall and other books on civil rights, including the nonfiction bestseller Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965. He has written for national news and commentary magazines. Williams also has contributed political analysis to Nightline, Fox News Channel, Washington Week in Review and Oprah, and he frequently co-hosts CNN’s Crossfire.

Next spring, the 2009 Symposium on Democracy will feature, among others, public historian Jay Winter, the Charles J. Stille Professor of History at Yale University, said Dr. Laura Davis, symposium committee co-chair.

Winter, Davis says, has written that we are experiencing a "memory boom," which he describes as "the efflorescence of interest in the subject of memory.” History and memory are braided together in the public domain, Winter says, “jointly informing our shifting and contested understandings of the past.”

The 2009 symposium, Davis said, will explore such questions as: What are the roles of individual and collective experience in memorializing events and creating history? What role does “public history” serve in war-torn societies? How do ethnicity, age, gender and nationality affect the telling of a story? How will archives mediate our understanding in the future?

The Symposium on Democracy commemorates the events of May 4, 1970. Reflecting on the events of the past presents a continuing opportunity to examine the present state of democracy and look for lessons that can be applied to the future.

For additional information, visit the Kent State Web site.

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