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Paul Flessland, Published February 26 2013

Ayers to MSUM audience: ‘Education can shape your destiny’

MOORHEAD – William Ayers spoke Tuesday evening at Minnesota State University Moorhead’s Weld Hall about education reform and what it would mean for a democratic society.

Two quotes from Ayers’ parents were the grounds for his speech: “Education is God’s work,” said his mother, and “Education can shape your destiny, and can shape the destiny of a people,” said his father.

Ayers believes much can be learned about a society by observing its schools. For example, Ayers had the chance of visiting schools in South Africa during apartheid. These schools, where the black majority received an overall worse education than the white minority, were a direct reflection of South Africa’s society.

Ayers argues that every child should receive the same education in the U.S.

“Every human being is entitled to an education that will develop the whole human personality,” he said.

While many members of the audience praised Ayers’ message, one of whom expressed admiration in a long-winded speech during the Q&A portion, Ayers’ ideals were met with some opposition.

During the Q&A following his speech, one man spoke out against Ayers’ views of the Electoral College. The man believed that the Electoral College better represented smaller states and minorities, while Ayers firmly believes in one vote per person.

Ayers was also asked whether he was the infamous “ghost writer” of Barack Obama’s memoir, “Dreams from My Father.” Ayers responded with a proposition for the man, saying “if you can help me prove I’m the writer, I’ll give you half the royalties.”

Ayer, 68, was one of the co-founders of Weather Underground, an organization opposing U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The organization, formed in 1969, is infamous for their bombing campaigns through the mid-1970s. Several government buildings were targeted, including the United States Capitol and the Pentagon.

More recently, Ayers was involved with a controversy over his contacts with Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Paul Flessland at (701) 241-5502