Progressive Lessons on Tap at Conference

Posted June 22, 2007 at 6:11pm

The campuses of the world’s colleges and universities have always acted as a hotbeds of political activism and engagement, and starting today progressive-minded young leaders from across the nation will convene in Washington, D.C., to learn how to most effectively distribute their message.

In a conglomeration of various conventions and training sessions, the Center for American Progress will bring close to 1,000 students from across the United States to learn grass-roots organizing skills, the latest on political issues and, of course, networking parties.

“The main goal of the conference is to connect them with each other,” said Theo LeCompte, associate director of press relations for the center.

Attendees to the three-day conference on Capitol Hill will hear from numerous political leaders including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.).

“The Speaker appreciates Campus Progress’s great work to engage young people across the country and their efforts to carry the progressive message onto college campuses,” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy press secretary, wrote in an e-mail.

At Pelosi’s keynote speech Tuesday morning, Hammill said the Speaker plans to talk about a slew of political issues such as the Iraq War and global warming.

Today’s events also will include a Student Journalism Conference sponsored in part by The Nation, which will include speeches from renowned journalists such as Seymour Hersh and Eric Schlosser, author of the book-cum-movie “Fast Food Nation.”

With 2007 being the conference’s third year, this is the first time it has been held with Democrats in control of Congress. LeCompte said that change has had little impact on the conference overall.

“It’s changed the titles of some of the speakers,” he noted, “but I don’t think it has changed the thrust of the conference.”

LeCompte said attendance has remained relatively stable since the conference’s inception, and while both the center and the Campus Progress organization itself cater to a liberally minded crowd, those with opposing political views are encouraged to come and engage in the discussions.