Paul’s speech at Howard University was met with some protests, even as he tried to outline how the GOP has ben on the side of racial equality.
The auditorium, which campus police said seats around 250 people, was full for Paul’s speech, and some listeners stood against the wall.
Though not everyone was as outspoken as Menifee, others in the audience expressed skepticism about Paul’s olive branch.
Before the speech, Vanessa A. Knox, a political science and biology double major at Howard weighed in on Paul’s visit. “My expectations really aren’t that high, but I believe in hearing out the other side,” she said.
“It wasn’t the best speech. It was pretty much what I expect from any politician in general,” television and production major Michael Lindsey said. Lindsey wasn’t swayed by Paul’s appeals, but he acknowledged that he is a Democrat.
Beyond civil rights issues, Paul had more success. During the question-and-answer session, the audience offered full applause when Paul said he would do everything he could to keep nonviolent drug offenders out of jail.
Paul’s public acknowledgements that he is mulling a 2016 bid for the presidency also brought out other local activists.
Four activists from Young Americans for Liberty, a national student-focused libertarian group, wore stickers that read “I Stand with Rand” and carried an email sign-up sheet for the organization’s newsletter.
Five protesters from the local DC Vote organization held signs outside the building that portrayed a Gadsden flag with Paul’s head spliced over that of the flag’s iconic snake.