Ford Hall Forum Comes Home

Ford Hall Forum, celebrating a century of public dialogue and free speech, has established a new partnership with the Suffolk University College of Arts & Sciences. The lecture series’ administrative offices in the John E. Fenton Building are just one block from where the original Ford Hall (below) once stood.

The Forum is now the nation’s oldest free public lecture series. It began in 1908 as a series of Sunday evening public meetings hosted by George W. Coleman, a prominent Boston businessman, to provide the “full, free, and open discussion of all vital questions affecting human welfare.”

Since Coleman’s time, the Forum has gone on to host discussions with the most intriguing figures in our nation’s modern history, including Maya Angelou, Louis Brandeis, W.E.B. DuBois, Al Gore, Garrison Keillor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Henry Kissinger, Ayn Rand, Eleanor Roosevelt, Cokie Roberts, and Malcolm X. While the original Ford Hall no longer exists, the Forum’s public conversations have continued throughout Greater Boston with the support of foundations, corporations, academic institutions, and individuals.

Suffolk University, which also just celebrated its centennial, is providing the Forum with the opportunity to “come home” not only to Beacon Hill but also into an academic environment that shares a similar spirit and history of accessible education and civic dialogue. “Both organizations were born in the Progressive Era, and both have a commitment to free speech and interactive learning,” says Dean Kenneth Greenberg. “We are eager for our community to engage in the excitement of live, public discourse that is the heart of the Ford Hall Forum events.”

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, is scheduled to kick off the Forum’s fall 2008 season in September. Future speakers include Gary Hirshberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farms and author of Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World, Gwen Ifill, host of PBS’ Washington Week in Review and Douglas J. Feith, former United States Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.  See the Ford Hall Forum ad on page 13 for the complete season line-up.

For more information, visit www.fordhallforum.org or contact Alex Minier at 617-557-2007.