Becoming Agents of Change: A Conversation with David Hogg and Dr. Richard Parker
Thayer Academy’s inaugural Global Speaker Series event featured an intergenerational conversation between a distinguished Harvard professor known for his decades of social and political activism and a passionate college student charting his own bold course in that work. The instances where their stories mirrored one another — and the instances where they diverged — made for a fascinating and moving evening Oct. 17 in the CFA’s Hale Theater.
“Becoming Agents of Change: A Conversation with David Hogg and Dr. Richard Parker” offered compelling insights into each speaker’s “origin stories” as difference makers among their respective generations and offered thoughts about how individuals and groups can identify, work for, and establish meaningful change in society.
The co-founder of March for Our Lives, one of the world’s largest youth-led movements and one dedicated to ending gun violence, Hogg is currently a student at Harvard College. He is a survivor of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a lone gunman murdered 14 students and three staff members. Hogg is also the co-author (with his sister, Lauren Hogg) of #NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line. During the event, Hogg discussed his continuing journey to influence lawmakers to pass gun reform legislation while managing the ongoing and challenging realities of being a public figure devoted to this cause. He also offered advice to the 150 audience members regarding how to take effective steps toward growing movements or causes in the face of divisive times and resistance.
Hogg was joined on stage by Oxford-trained economist, author, and longtime lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Richard Parker, co-founder of Mother Jones and Investigative Reporters & Editors and current member of the editorial board of The Nation. Parker and Hogg spoke about the genesis of their mentor/student relationship at Harvard which has recently evolved into Parker joining the March for Our Lives board. They further delved into a range of topics from the guiding influences of their parents, particularly their fathers (Parker’s being a member of the clergy and Hogg’s serving as an FBI agent and Navy pilot) in developing their values systems and world views. Both speakers affirmed the need for successful activism to incorporate joy and fun with purpose to more effectively engage supporters.
The evening was moderated by Timothy Patrick McCarthy, PhD, resident scholar at Thayer focusing on leadership, communication and human rights. Dr. McCarthy is an award-winning scholar with a joint faculty appointment at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Edited: Video added
The Thayer Global Speaker Series brings thought leaders, innovators, and difference-makers to the Thayer campus to engage the community in issues that matter to the world. The goal is to reinforce the Academy’s commitment to inspire students to new heights of excellence so that they become leaders who rise to honorable achievement and make lasting contributions to the common good.