Monday, September 26, 2005

Ford Urges Students To 'Do The Hard Stuff'

Congressman Harold E. Ford Jr. urged students attending Howard's 138th Convocation ceremony on Friday to face the problems of American society boldly and to not back down from adversity.

"My advice to the Class of do the hard stuff," Ford said.

Ford explained in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and inadequate response to the needs of the victims, Americans now have to face issues of poverty and inequality in the United States. "

This moment has been forced upon us to deal with things we often sweep under the rug," Ford said.

One of the issues this generation must now face according to Ford is the dependence on oil from foreign country.

Ford said the money spent on oil is often used to finance terrorism, including the attacks of September 11.

Yet, four years after the assault on the Pentagon and World Trade Centers, Americans spend more money and import more oil than before the attacks.

In addition to the fuel consumption problem, students will have to address how to fund the rebuilding of the Gulf states and also the assistance of those who are living below the poverty line said Ford.

The Tennessee congressman had critical words for President Bush about how he plans to finance the restoration of hurricane ravaged states with budget cuts.

Ford questioned whether the cuts would be made to programs such as veterans' healthcare, Pell grants or free lunches in public schools.

Ford, however, stressed he was not in favor of exorbitant spending.

"As much as I like to spend money, I would also like to be able to pay the bill as well," Ford said.

Tamara Hughes, a freshman business management major, said she enjoyed Ford's speech.

"It was inspirational and motivational, and I think it kept a lot of people's attention," Hughes said. "A lot of things he said people respect, and that's important because no one is going to listen to someone they don't respect."

Patricia DeMaio, a professor at Howard's law school, was also pleased with Ford's address.

"It was wonderful," DeMaio said. "I thought the speaker was excellent. I was thoroughly impressed."

During the ceremony President Patrick Swygert presented Ford with an honorary degree, and described Ford, 35, as a dynamic statesman.

In the midst of the celebration of the new school year, the specter of Hurricane Katrina loomed heavily in the remarks of presenters. Swygert said the festivities were tempered by the tragedy which exposed an unfulfilled mission of the Civil Rights Movement. Swygert also hailed the efforts of the Howard University to help out during the crisis. He highlighted the $1000 grants the university awarded to about 400 students directly impacted by the hurricane and the more than 70 displaced students now enrolled at the university. Swygert announced Sodexho Food Services, the company which caters Howard's eateries, will offer the displaced students meal plans free of charge.

Swygert said the assistance being offered to those sister universities closed by the storm is necessary.

"By helping these institutions we are helping ourselves because they represent the best in us," Swygert said.

From: The Hilltop