Senator Bernie Sanders delivers 58th annual Green Lecture

Sanders delivers the 58th annual John Findley Green Foundation Lecture inside Westminster’s Champ Auditorium on Sept. 21. Members of the Churchill Singers and select students and faculty members sat onstage during the speech. PHOTO BY JIM MALVEN.

BY MADISON INGRAM 
STAFF WRITER

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., delivered the 58th annual John Findley Green Foundation Lecture at Westminster College on Sept. 21. Sanders is the longest-serving independent in U.S. Congressional history and ran for the Democratic party nomination in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.


The Green Lecture is part of the Hancock Symposium, a two-day event full of lectures, panel discussions and presentations by experts on one subject of global interest. The lecture was held in Champ Auditorium, where students, faculty, alumni, news reporters, and the public filled almost every seat. Westminster Acting President Dr. Carolyn Perry presented Sanders with an honorary doctoral degree in Political Science prior to the lecture.

An enthusiastic and large crowd filled Champ Auditorium with all eyes fixed on center stage. Sanders, 76, spoke passionately about his vision for foreign policy and criminal justice. Loud roars of applause and chanting often momentarily stopped Sanders from continuing his speech.

Sanders kicked off his lecture by challenging the assembly: “Not only do we need to begin a more vigorous debate about foreign policy, but we also need a better understanding of what foreign policy is.”

He said that foreign policy is directly related to military policy. He described budget cuts in health care, the Environmental Protection Agency, education and many more areas that the Trump administration is implementing to help fund military and border security spending. Sanders criticized these cuts and noted that he voted against wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sanders also discussed reform in policing and the criminal justice system, using the Jason Stockley verdict as an example of police brutality against minorities. The verdict for this case came out about a week before Sanders’ trip to Westminster. Stockley, who fatally shot Anthony Lamar Smith, an African American, while on duty as a St. Louis police officer, was found not guilty of murder, and protests broke out in St. Louis once again.

“As we saw clearly in St. Louis this past week, we need serious reform in policing and the criminal justice system, so that every person’s life is equally valued,” Sanders stated.

This comment generated a loud round of applause from the audience.

In addition, Sanders spoke out about climate change, saying that this phenomenon is real and irreversible.

In doing so, he reiterated ideas that were expressed by climatologist Katharine Hayhoe in the Opening Plenary Session of the Symposium a day earlier.

Sanders and Hayhoe are just two of several world-renowned speakers who have come to Westminster for the Hancock Symposium. Since the program began in 2006, Symposium lecturers have included Irish musician and activist Sir Bob Geldof, United States Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, and revolutionary Nigerian-American physician and neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu. Topics have included foreign policy in the Middle East, environmental sustainability, global health, global conflict, global sport, digital technology and national security. To learn more about previous symposia, click here.

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