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Published:March 26th, 2007 12:22 EST
Harold Ford, Jr. Makes an IMPACT

Harold Ford, Jr. Makes an IMPACT

By Jessica Baird

“The greatness of our country rests on the shoulders of this generation,” said Harold Ford, Jr. during the IMPACT symposium last week. Speaking to several hundred students and politically conscious Tennesseans at Vanderbilt University, Ford continued his crusade for the youth of America to become more politically aware.

Although President Bill Clinton wasn’t in attendance, his previous description of Ford paints a strong picture of his unwavering determination to make some changes within the current political realm.

“[He is] the walking, living embodiment of where America ought to go in the 21st century,” according to Clinton.

This past November, Ford’s crusades lead him to the closest Senatorial race in the history of the Volunteer state. Although Ford was defeated by less than three percentage points by Republican Bob Corker, he has not faded from political or public view.

Currently, Ford teaches a course on American political leadership at Vanderbilt University. This course, according to his students, gives the charismatic Ford a perfect outlet for spreading his infectious passion for politics.

“I’d rather him be Senator Ford, but having him at Vanderbilt is the next best thing,” said one of Ford’s students in an assessment of his teaching skills.

In his speech, Ford echoed this student’s statements when he jokingly said, “I thought I’d be doing something else. In fact I’d want to be doing something else. But you grow and mature through losing.”

Although the classroom has provided a new, and unexpected, outlet for Ford, his stance behind a podium at the IMPACT symposium showed that he is confident in any arena. Prior to his new stint as a guest professor, and his run for State Senator, Ford served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 10 years.

Ford is the youngest speaker in IMPACT’s 43 year history. Past speakers include Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell. The focus of this year’s IMPACT symposium was “The Political Landscape.”

The political landscape is broken in several places and, according to Ford, is in serious need of a facelift. The area in which our country is lacking the least amount of direction, he said, is the war in Iraq.

“The real tragedy is not that the administration was wrong,” Ford said, “The real tragedy is that they have not tried to correct their mistakes or try to learn from them.”

Even though Ford shared his frustrations with the current administration, he said his faith continues to guide him through both this indefinite war and the muddled political landscape.

When discussing President Bush, Ford said, “I pray for the guy every night and you should to, at least for the next year and a couple months.”

Although some Americans may feel that the situation in Iraq is out of their control, Ford would disagree. His desire for Americans, especially the younger generations, to capture this opportunity to be heard was reiterated multiple times throughout the IMPACT symposium.

“This moment is our moment. [Decisions in our government] are determined by our involvement,” he said. “If we allow our government to belittle us, it will do just that.”