Controversial figure speaking at GSU

By Dal Cannady - bio | email

STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) - Bill Ayers led a self-described communist group that used violence to oppose the Vietnam War decades ago. The controversial figure will speak publicly Monday night at Georgia Southern University at 7 p.m.

Many students have not paid attention, other than to know Ayers is controversial. The rest are torn between his freedom speech and the repercussions of his past. Signs aren't the only way students knew that Bill Ayers was coming to their campus. The Vietnam-era political activist is no stranger to strong opinions where ever he goes.

"His past, it just rubbed me the wrong way. A lot of people around here don't know who he is and that's a shame," said GSU student Josh Hoffman.

Ayers co-founded a group called the Weather Underground, that spoke out against the Vietnam war and set off bombs in New York, Washington and elsewhere to further their message. He spent decades after that as a college professor and controversial speaker. Ayers was scheduled to visit Southern two years ago.

Many students weren't aware of Ayers speech, but defended his right to speak.

"The campus' job is to teach us and there's no way to teach us without exposing us to the gamut," said GSU Student Julia Strickland.

"I feel like there's been controversial people on campus before and it went over fine," GSU senior Ayana Powell told WTOC.

Some students did not want to make a statement about the visit, but said they will be there to hear him out, whether they agree with him or not.

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