Kentucky Students: Ditch Mitch as Graduation Speaker

Mitch McConnell Graduation CommencementThe son of a Steelworker is leading a Murray, Kentucky, State University student protest against the choice of Sen. Mitch McConnell as the school’s commencement speaker.

“We aren’t quibbling with the university’s right to invite Sen. McConnell,” said Devin Griggs, 22. “We just question why he was invited.”

Graduation ceremonies will be May 11.

Griggs, from Benton, Kentucky, is the son of Cliff Griggs, a member of United Steelworkers Local 9447.

“Sen. McConnell votes against education every chance he gets,” Griggs said. “He voted against federal aid to states that would have kept teachers and aides employed. He voted against extending low interest rates for federal student loans.

“He voted against Pell Grants. He also supports vouchers, which hurt public schools.”

Griggs is opinion editor at the Murray State News, the campus paper and he is running for president of the College Democrats. “But our protest is not connected to the newspaper or confined to the College Democrats,” he said. “This is an independent, grassroots effort and we’re getting a lot of support campus-wide and from alumni.”

Even so, Griggs couldn’t resist chiming in about the Bluegrass State’s senior senator in his weekly column: “When I found out that Mitch McConnell would be giving Murray State ’s commencement address, I nearly crashed. And I mean that literally, because I was driving when I got a text message informing me…Mitch McConnell headlining Murray State’s graduation might be less egregious if he hadn’t made his entire political career flipping students the bird.”

The protestors have opened a Facebook page,  and are circulating an online petition\.

“We got more than 200 ‘likes’ from all over in the first two days our Facebook page was up,” Griggs said.

The protest is also getting a boost from Hillbilly Report, a popular Bluegrass State political blog.

Berry CraigGriggs, a political science major, earned the Kentucky State AFL-CIO’s Youth Award in 2011. He expects to graduate in December and hopes to work for a union.

“If Sen. McConnell does end up speaking, at least I won’t have to listen to him,” Griggs said.

More information about the protest is available from Griggs. He can be reached by phone at 270.493.2746 or by email at dgriggs@murraystate.edu.

Berry Craig

Friday, 19 April 2013

Published by the LA Progressive on April 20, 2013
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About Berry Craig

Berry Craig is an emeritus professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360, the recording secretary for the Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, and the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War, Hidden History of Kentucky Soldiers and Hidden History of Western Kentucky. He is a native of Mayfield, Ky., where he lives with his wife of 33 years and their 20-year-old son.

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