Last Friday nationally syndicated columnist, radio personality and author, Jim Hightower spoke at Fountain Street Church to a crowd of approximately seven hundred. Hightower, a former Texas state Agriculture Secretary, bills himself as “America’s #1 populist.” His speech at Fountain Street was a combination of populist and progressive ideals with particular emphasis on the importance of grassroots organizing. An engaging and entertaining speaker, Hightower used humor and a folksy Texas demeanor to get his point across. In particular, Hightower went out of his way to promote the Grand Rapids Community Media Center, who cosponsored the event, and to promote citizen movements for media reform, particularly efforts to challenge corporate media FCC license renewals.
The audience was, from appearances, primarily older, middle class, white liberals. During the question and answer period it became apparent that many of them missed Hightower’s point about the importance of grass roots organizing as they seemed more interested in mocking Bush or discussing who might be the next Democratic candidate for President. Hightower, who considers himself a Democrat, had offered a very harsh critique of John Kerry earlier in the evening and in response to questions about potential future candidates, restated that it is grass roots movements that will force positive social change and not politicians.
Hightowers speech was video taped and will be aired on GRTV cable channel 25 on:
- Sat. 2/12 10:00 am
- Sun. 2/13 Noon
- Wed. 2/16 5:30 pm
- Thu. 2/17 8:30 pm
- Sat. 2/19 7:00 pm
He also was interviewed by the crew of Catalyst Radio while in Grand Rapids. The interview will air on 88.1 FM WYCE this friday and 9:30 am. It will also be available in MPEG format at the Catalyst Radio Website Friday afternoon.