St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California has invited the sixties radical Bill Ayers to speak in a lecture series titled “Against the Grain.” The college says Ayers will “discuss his life and work and their inevitable intersection in the pursuit of social justice.”
Ayers, presently an education professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, co-founded the Weather Underground in 1969. Originally called the Weathermen, the Weather Underground was a left-wing terrorist group that planted bombs in public buildings, including the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, and a New York City police station, the California Catholic Daily reports.
President Obama’s connections to Ayers were a topic of controversy during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Saint Mary’s College has about 4,500 students and is run by the Christian Brothers. The college’s announcement says its lecture series forces students to “step out of their comfort zones” and “explore new intellectual territory.”
The college’s announcement of Ayers’ Jan. 28 lecture says he is “noted for his work in education reform and also for his controversial history as a founder of the Weather Underground.”
A group called the “Simple Justice… Not Social Justice Coalition” has announced that it will sponsor educational activities on the day of Ayers’ lecture to speak out against his presence.
“We intend to peacefully counter Ayers’ hateful ideology, which is not compatible with America’s most noble traditions,” the coalition said in a statement, adding that a rally and vigil will be held before and during Ayers’ speech outside of the college’s Soda Center, the event’s venue.
According to the California Catholic Daily, the coalition called the Weather Underground a “domestic terrorist organization” and charged Ayers with being “personally involved in a campaign of violence” and bombings.
“On March 6, 1970 Ayers’ then-girlfriend, Diana Oughton, was killed along with two accomplices when the bomb which they were building prematurely detonated,” the coalition charged. “That bomb was going to be used to kill American soldiers at Ft. Dix, New Jersey. Ayers remains completely unapologetic about his violent past and was quoted as saying he wished he had ‘done more.’”
Ayers’ lecture reportedly will be on the topic “Trudging Toward Freedom.”