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Thu April 29, 2010
Ayers speaks and gets standing ovation
By Molly Messick
Laramie, Wy –
About 1100 people attended a talk by education professor and former militant activist William Ayers on the University of Wyoming campus. Security was high, and in the end much of the audience gave Ayers a standing ovation.
Ayers began his talk by briefly discussing the cancellation of his first scheduled visit to the university. He emphasized the importance of exchanging ideas freely and openly, especially on a university campus. He then moved on to talk about education. It was a wide-ranging speech on social justice and education reform, drawing lessons from literature and the Civil Rights Movement. Questions from the audience also focused primarily on education, but two people did ask Ayers about his past, as a co-founder of radical group the Weather Underground.
Q-So how does your example of stomping on a U.S. flag and putting bombs in the Pentagon - how does that set an example for education, exactly?
Ayers- "Bad example," he said, and moved on to other questions.
Ayers was permitted to speak at the University of Wyoming last night only after a federal judge ruled that U-W must allow it. The decision to cancel an appearance scheduled for early April made national news, and touched off a debate about free speech and academic freedom on the U-W campus.