St. Thomas students, faculty and members of the surrounding community filled the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium Monday night to hear Donna Brazile speak about the importance of mutual respect and unity in today’s world.
About 600 people came to listen to the CNN political contributor, ABC News consultant and veteran Democratic political strategist. Brazile came to campus for the CommUNITY series, which offers events and discussions to promote creating “a socially and intellectually conscious community.”
“[Co-chair Cynthia Fraction and I] zeroed in on Donna Brazile immediately because we believe with her lifelong history she definitely exemplifies the mission of the CommUNITY Series, which is to try to build a social, intellectually conscious community,” said Michael Glirbas, co-chair of the CommUNITY Series.
St. Thomas students were interested to hear Brazile discuss community involvement.
“[I know] that she’ll be speaking about community participation and engagement which is something that I’m interested in,” senior Amy Westmoreland said. “[I’m most excited about] hearing her speak and hearing what she has to say about how we can engage in different communities.”
Other students came to hear about Brazile’s experience with politics and her opinion on current issues.
“I’m interested in learning what she can teach me about politics and the concepts of race,” freshman G Lee Xiong said.
Brazile’s words of wisdom
During her speech, Brazile stressed the importance of finding common ground, including all opinion and participating in dialogue with one another.
“We have to make sure that we bring in people from both sides, listen to everyone, be respectful,” she said. “Don’t be afraid of change, don’t be afraid to listen to dissent, to the other side. We have to find a way … to have a constructive conversation by engaging everyone … We have to decide if we want to continue to turn our backs on finding common sense solutions.”
Brazile also strongly emphasized how influential young adults can be in the political process.
“[Young adults] can make a difference, and indeed they did make a difference [in the recent election],” she said. “And now that we’ve got them involved, whet their appetite, we need to keep them involved … It is so important to keep young people engaged in this process and to let them know that they have the voice and a role to play in the future of our country. We need their leadership … their fresh blood and their fresh perspective.”
Because Monday was the International Day of Peace, Brazile mentioned each individual’s responsibility to look beyond differences, and focus on bringing about equality.
“We know that we have a tremendous federal deficit,” she said. “We all know that we have soaring personal deficits. We shouldn’t have a moral deficit. We should speak up more when we see injustice.”
She continued to emphasize that Americans have a great responsibility to fight discrimination.
“I would hope that we find our strength and what unites us as Americans,” she said. “We’re good people, we’re a good country … This is our moment. Let us show the world why we are, indeed, one of the greatest countries on the planet.”
Brazile emphasized the importance of hope in the creation of unity among citizens.
“I am most committed to seeing every American succeed,” Brazile said. “I want to believe in hope in its most powerful sense: the ability to believe in one another … hope that inspires and encourages ordinary citizens to do their best and inspire our new generation to serve.
Rebecca Omastiak can be reached at email@example.com