Miller Center

Riding The Tiger

“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” Harry S. Truman

American Forum: Ari Berman & Modern Struggle for Voting Rights

Douglas Blackmon and Ari Berman on American Forum

Tune in to American Forum this week as contributing writer for The Nation Magazine Ari Berman and host Douglas Blackmon discuss the dramatic passage of the Voting Rights Act and the turbulent forces it unleashed.

American Forum broadcasts nationally on more than 75% of PBS stations (check local listings) including their World Channel Wednesdays at 7:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. EST.

Edward Kennedy, Bipartisanship, and Personal Friendships

Kennedy and Santorum

Senator Kennedy enjoys the spoils of victory after winning a friendly bet with Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA).

Last week, the Miller Center released the first batch of Edward M. Kennedy Oral History transcripts. Although touching on a wide variety of topics: civil rightsforeign policySupreme Court nominations, and health care, just to name a few, a common thread throughout nearly all of the interviews is a sense of Kennedy’s willingness to engage in bipartisanship.  Beyond making temporary legislative alliances, however, many of Kennedy’s acts of bipartisanship fostered deep and meaningful friendships across the aisle.  Figures as ideologically opposed to Kennedy, such as Trent Lott (R-MS) and Mike Enzi (R-WY), recounted their deep friendships with Kennedy, as shown in in the following excerpts.

Edward Kennedy and Refugees

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

In one interview for his oral history, Ted Kennedy simply says, "I have a commitment to being a voice for the voiceless." This commitment can be traced to his work on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Refugees and Escapees.

Public Service and the Speakership

Last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) surprised the country by announcing his resignation from not only the Speakership, but also his seat in the House of Representatives. In doing so, he became the first Speaker to resign in the middle of a Congressional session since Jim Wright in 1989.

In this excerpt from a newly-released transcript from the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History Project, another former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, weighs on the honors and responsibilities of serving as Speaker of the House. 

Ted Kennedy’s Inspiration of American History and Immigrant Background

Listen to Ted Kennedy's Inspiration of American History and Immigrant Background:

Ted Kennedy and Challenging People

Listen to Ted Kennedy talk about the importance of challenging people in the U.S.:

Ted Kennedy and the Senate

Listen to Ted Kennedy talk about the state of the Senate:

Ted Kennedy and Supreme Court Nominations

Listen as Ted Kennedy talks about how the Supreme Court nomination process is failing:

Ted Kennedy and Civil Rights

Listen to Ted Kennedy talk about civil rights:

Ted Kennedy and the Need for Health Care

Listen to Ted Kennedy talk about health care.

Senator Ted Kennedy, Civil Rights, and the March of Progress

President Bush signs the ADA, which Kennedy co-sponsored.

President George H. W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act, which Kennedy co-sponsored.

With today's unveiling of the Miller Center’s Edward M. Kennedy Oral History Project, the Center's research staff, which participated in collecting this massive archive, has engaged in some friendly debate over the question of how to identify the Senator's most defining issue. He worked prolifically on immigration, education, and labor issues, on judicial confirmations, and on a host of foreign policy issues around the world. But our debate narrowed to a pair of his most notable policy causes:  civil rights and health care. 

Ted Kennedy and the Miller Center’s Oral History Program

Senator Ted Kennedy and Dr. Jim Young. Photo by Miller Center

Senator Ted Kennedy and Dr. Jim Young. Photo by Miller Center

As the September 30th opening of the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History Project gets closer, people often ask why the Miller Center was picked to conduct the oral history. Don't you do presidential oral history? The answer can be found in one word: nonpartisanship.

Ted Kennedy and the Presidents

Ted Kenney and Lyndon Johnson, 1964. Courtesy of NARA.

In anticipation of the Ted Kennedy Oral History launch on September 30th, we turn to Kennedy’s views of the presidents as found in his memoir True Compass. The book was published in 2009, and our oral history was the genesis for the book.

Remembering Julian Bond - by Phyllis Leffler

Julian Bond and Phyllis Leffler discussed their black leadership project in a recent episode of the Miller Center’s American Forum.

Julian Bond was a prince of a man—a leader of leaders.  I had the privilege of working with him for over fifteen years on the Explorations in Black Leadership project.  He was my collaborator and friend.

Julian was modest, supportive, generous, amenable.  His sense of human decency and his principled commitment to engage others and to listen meant that he was open to conversation with people across the political spectrum—from Clarence Thomas to Amiri Baraka, from Angela Davis to Armstrong Williams.  He had the oratorical skills to “speak truth to power”—a mantra he used often.  In those instances, he pulled no punches and he made no apologies for his strong words.  But those words were often necessary to make the larger point.  For decades, his was the urbane, polished, disciplined voice of America’s civil and human rights movements.

The Fascinating, yet Ominous, History of Ohio Presidents

President William McKinley

Yesterday, Republican presidential hopeful, Governor John Kasich, posted a photo to his campaign’s Facebook page which showed all of the presidents who came from Ohio and boasted that tomorrow’s first debate will take place in Ohio- the “mother of all presidents.” Kasich, as Governor of Ohio, was trying to draw positive connections to the past in order to boost his campaign, but this begs the question: is this the sort of connection he really wants to make?