Bill Bradley calls for pluralism

April 09, 1997


Staff Writer

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - Bill Bradley, a former three-term U.S. senator from New Jersey and ex-New York Knicks basketball superstar, used humor, parables and plain speaking to get his point across to a Shippensburg University audience that America has to lead the world by the power of its own example as a pluralistic society.

Bradley was the first lecturer in the University's new Willard E. Kerr Lecture Series, named after the former dean of the graduate school who left an endowment for the series in a bequest after his death. The speech highlighted the school's annual University Day program in which students get out of class for a day of special events, said Peter M. Gigliotti, school spokesman.

Bradley cited the leadership of Russian leaders Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsen and South African President Nelson Mandela as individuals who have made a difference. "In the last 10 years we've seen the end of Communism in the Soviet Union, the end of that entire country and the end of Apartheid in South Africa," Bradley said.


Two conclusions can be drawn from those events: "That what you thought would never change can change and that one person can make a difference," Bradley said.

"We can lead the world by defining who we are as a pluralistic nation and by the strength of who we are as a people," he said.

"We have to talk to each other across racial and ethnic lines," Bradley said. "There's an obvious need for racial healing in this country. We have to do a better job than we've done."

Bradley said he decided not to run for a fourth term in August 1995 because he felt there was too much in politics that is broken and because he wanted to focus on other areas in the public interest, including his ongoing attempt to establish a grass-roots effort to bring about campaign finance reforms. "There's power to giving up power," he said.

"There's too much money in politics," Bradley said. "The media has trivialized it by focusing on personalities rather than what's really important."

Bradley tested the presidential waters in the last election but dropped out early. He said he has not given up on the idea. "Four years is a lifetime in politics," he said.

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