By James Wright, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
When Donna Brazile began her work as a lecturer at Howard University on Sept. 4, everyone was expecting her to lecture on the virtues of working in politics and tell a few war stories from her years as a campaign manager, activist and staffer on Capitol Hill.
Instead Brazile turned the tables on the Howard students at the inaugural class at the university’s Blackburn Center Lounge.
“This is how we shape the future and you will be the ones shaping that future,” Brazile said. “During this lecture series, I will be listening and interacting with you. The 21st century is about you and America is increasingly beginning to look like us.”
Brazile is the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the campaign manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000, the former chief of staff for D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and has worked extensively for the Rev. Jesse Jackson campaigns in 1984 and 1988 as well as for causes such as the successful effort to have Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. birthday made a federal holiday. In August, it was announced that she will be the recipient of the Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy at the university.
At Howard, Brazile will develop and host a five-part lectures series for the entire Howard community on subjects such as politics, voting, criminal justice reform and civility.
“Ms. Brazile has spent decades at the table of the political discourse in our nation,” Dr. Wayne I. Frederick said about the former chair of the DNC. “She can now draw on all of her experience and wisdom to bring a bipartisan discussion to these critical issues.”
The Kings praised Brazile for accepting the offer to hold their chair for the 2018-2019 academic year, saying she “will bring unparalleled breadth and depth of experience and knowledge to Howard students across several academic disciplines in a statement.”
Brazile is no stranger to Howard, serving as a lecturer and guest speaker.
“I am so happy to be at an HBCU,” Brazile said to the 100 students. “My parents are graduates of HBCUs in Louisiana and I know the value of them.”
Brazile is known as a keen organizer and that is what she did. She asked students to identify themselves by class and what interest or concern did they have in politics.
Next, she asked students to put their name down on lists to help her organize the lectures and speakers. Brazile also made it a point to touch base with Howard University Student Association President Amos Jackson III on how they could work together to make the student body more politically active.
Brazile told the AFRO that former GOP chairman Michael Steele will be a speaker during the week of Sept. 10-15 and she plans to bring in former Trump administration Omarosa Manigault-Newman and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who is weighing a bid for president in 2020.
“I’m here and excited to be here,” Brazile said. “We as a people have to have a seat at the table. Remember, if you are not at the table, you are on the menu.”