News

February 9, 2010

Visit by Former ACORN Chief Wade Rathke Postponed

A rescheduled date will be announced at a later time

The lecture by Wade Rathke, founder and former chief organizer of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), has been postponed. A rescheduled date will be announced at a later time.

Wade Rathke, founder and former chief organizer of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), will be on campus Wednesday, Feb. 10 to speak with students and discuss his new book Citizen Wealth: Winning the Campaign to Save Working Families.

His evening lecture, “A Call to Citizen Action,” will be at 7:30 p.m. in room 104 of Kirby Hall of Civil Rights. He will also lead an informal discussion, “A Career in Social Change,” with students and faculty at 4 p.m. also in room 104. The events are free, open to the public, and sponsored by the government and law department.

Rathke’s lecture will put his call to action in the context of politics today, including community organizing, the future of the labor movement, health care, and the recent national controversy about ACORN.

“Mr. Rathke’s appearance on campus to discuss his recent book should be of interest to students, faculty, and members of the community,” says organizer Joshua Miller, professor of government and law. “Although he is here to discuss his book, he is willing to speak to the controversies surrounding ACORN.”

Rathke, a veteran of the National Welfare Rights Organization, formed ACORN in 1970 in Little Rock, Ark., as a grassroots effort to help low-to-moderate income families by working on neighborhood safety, voter registration, health care, affordable housing, and other social issues. It has grown into a powerful national organization with more than 400,000 members and political and economic impact in many cities and states.

The group has recently drawn national media attention. During the 2008 Presidential election, ACORN was accused of voter fraud, specifically registering non-existent voters. The group came under fierce attack by conservatives, and President Obama, a former community organizer, and some of his staff members were pressured to deny their connection with the organization. ACORN contracts were cut off by both Congress and state governments, and some state governments began investigations of local ACORN affiliates. Recently, ACORN won victories when the Congressional Research Service found that the group had violated no laws in the last five years.

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