October 2014

Congressman headlines Lyceum series

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The sharp partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats is preventing Congress from addressing the nation’s pressing problems, Rep. David E. Price said in a speech at Saint Augustine’s University on Thursday.

When “your politics is gridlocked,” the North Carolina Representative told a packed house at the University’s Emery Gymnasium, “It’s impossible to address major issues,” including transportation, housing, immigration and the growing cost of college.

Price, a Democrat who represents North Carolina’s 4th Congressional district, which includes Saint Augustine’s University, blamed Republicans for the gridlock. He said they not only oppose many of the programs President Obama would like to enact, but also “a number of things that had passed both parties in the past.” Republicans, he said, are just not interested in working across the aisle. “They just want to cut, cut, cut,” he said.

Price contrasted the federal government’s ineffectiveness since the Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in 2010 with the major legislation passed by Democrats during the first two years of Obama’s presidency, when Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate. These include passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank banking reforms and the trillion dollar stimulus package that included funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Price was invited by University’s Interim President Everett B. Ward. Dr. Ward said he has known Price since 1983, when he worked as Price’s special assistant for the North Carolina Democratic Party. “Congressman Price is a great mentor and outstanding scholar,” Dr. Ward said in an interview before the speech. “I know that he has a lot that he can share with the student body and faculty.”

Except for a brief two year period, 1996-1997, Price has served in Congress since 1987. Before that, he was a professor of political science and public policy at Duke University. He has also written four books on Congress and the American political system. Born in Erwin, Tenn., in 1940, Price earned his undergraduate degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and went on to Yale University to earn his Master’s Degree of Divinity and Ph.D. in political science.

Price was the second speaker in Saint Augustine’s University Lyceum Leadership Speaker Series. The first address was delivered last month by North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley. The Lyceum series is the brainchild of Dr. Ward, who revived the lecture series that had long been a staple of the University’s intellectual life.

“The Lyceum series is a monthly event designed to provide cultural and enrichment for the entire campus,” said Shelly Willingham-Hinton, the University’s Chief Communications Officer. “It’s going to happen the 4th of every Thursday.”

Following his speech, Price took questions from the audience. Several students asked him how they could become more involved in politics. In response, he urged them to “go out and participate.”

Another student asked him how he remained strong in the face of opposition. “If you don’t want things to get you down you should get your back up“ Price also told the students to, “Develop a career that satisfies you”

Shavona Hill, a senior majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication, enjoyed the talk. “Price is very informative and I appreciate him for coming to talk to the student and faculty,” she said.

— By Brittany Peay

Photo by Donald Carey