Above: Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Top: Clark with President Lyndon Johnson.
Ramsey Clark, who was the U.S. Attorney General in 1967-69 under President Lyndon Johnson and is an outspoken advocate for the protection of civil liberties, will be at Buena Vista University in April for an evening program that is open to the public.
Clark will present a lecture at 7 p.m. on April 11 as part of BVU’s Academic and Cultural Events Series (ACES) to reflect on the concepts of justice in an address “Justice: the Ground Upon Which the Rule of Law, Truth and Peace Stand.” The lecture will be in the Dows Conference Center at the Siebens Forum. Clark will also be meeting with students, and classes and faculty during his visit.
Clark continues to be an activist for the protection of civil liberties and civil rights in a career that has included serving on, or as an advisor to, the defense teams for controversial individuals such as the Harrisburg Seven, Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein. According to Clark, “It is essential for the rest of the world to see that the U.S. abides by the rule of law, faithfully enforced by the courts.”
Dr. Swasti Bhattacharyya, associate professor of religion, arranged for Clark’s visit to campus through a friend, Cynthia Hernandez, a Los Angeles attorney who worked with Clark at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda from 2001 to 2004 defending individuals charged with crimes against humanity. Bhattacharyya first met Hernandez in 1999 when both were Presidential Fellows at the University of Southern California. Hernandez currently works as an attorney for the Office of Independent Review overseeing internal investigations of allegations of professional misconduct in the LA County Sheriff’s Department and the LA County Probation Department. Hernandez will be on campus during Clark’s visit and will meet with classes and faculty. Clark and Hernandez will also meet with faculty members, including the McCorkle Fellows who will be traveling to Rwanda in June.
“Over the past nine months since Cynthia first suggested we invite Ramsey Clark to BVU, I have learned much from this man and cannot wait to meet him,” says Bhattacharyya. “It is not often I come across people who seem to have a vision of a world that is peaceful and just — and have committed their life to working towards this vision. I am thankful for the ACES program. It allows us to bring people like Ramsey Clark and Cynthia Hernandez to BVU and provide the students with the opportunity to interact with, and to learn from, them.”
During his tenure as U.S. Attorney General, Clark played an important role in the history of the civil rights movement and helped draft the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. He was the first Attorney General to oppose the death penalty and call for its elimination.
Later he was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement and in 1972 traveled to North Vietnam to protest the bombing of Hanoi. In 1979, he traveled to Iran as part of a diplomatic attempt to free the hostages of the Iranian Revolution.
In 1991, Clark filed a complaint with the International War Crimes Tribunal charging President H.W. Bush and members of his cabinet with “crimes against peace, war crimes, (and) crimes against humanity.
In 1992, Clark founded the International Action Center, which is committed to “building broad-based grassroots coalitions to oppose U.S. wars abroad while fighting against racism and economic exploitation of workers here at home.”