President Bill Clinton was known for his powerful speeches. The man behind many of those words is coming to Farmville to speak on one of the 20th century’s most well-known political feuds.
Jeff Shesol, noted author and former presidential speechwriter, will present a lecture on how national politics influenced the civil rights struggle and presidential leadership as part of the Longwood Leadership Forum at the Robert Russa Moton Museum on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 4 p.m.
Shesol’s lecture, titled "Mutual Contempt: The Bitter Robert F. Kennedy/Lyndon B. Johnson Rivalry and the Fight for Civil Rights," comes on the heels of the award-winning film Selma, which portrays a contested relationship between the White House and civil rights activists. Shesol has published two highly praised studies of national politics, Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy and The Feud That Defined a Decade and Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. The Supreme Court.It was Mutual Contempt that led Clinton to contact Shesol and tap him for senior staff.
"Jeff Shesol is an accomplished writer who brings an insightful perspective to national politics," said Dr. Larissa Fergeson, professor of history at Longwood. "His work is grounded in a deep understanding of how Washington works and the forces that shaped public policy during the crucial decade of the 1960s. As Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy sought to intervene in the Prince Edward school closings case and was instrumental in the establishment of the Free Schools in 1963. Shesol’s lecture will help to place Prince Edward’s civil rights history in a broader national context."
Shesol comes to Longwood just after the university was selected as the site of the lone vice presidential debate of the 2016 general election.
Shesol also taught presidential history at Princeton University and the University of California Washington Center and is a founding partner of the West Wing Writers, a speechwriting and strategy group. He has been recognized for his comic strip Thatch, which was featured in more than 150 newspapers in the 1990s.
The event is free and open to the public.