On Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 27, Samford University President Beck Taylor sent an email to the Samford community announcing that Pulitzer prize-winning author and speaker Jon Meacham would no longer be the featured speaker at an upcoming Presidential Inauguration event. Taylor’s email came following both a Student Government Association resolution opposing Meacham’s talk, as well as an online petition that circulated among the Samford community. In his email, Taylor said that although he still desires for Meacham to speak to the university at another time, he wants the inauguration to be an event that unifies the Samford community.
“Although I am disappointed by the narrative that has combined important conversations about pro-life issues and Mr. Meacham’s planned appearance at Samford, it is vitally important to me that next week’s events unify and draw our community together to celebrate the history and future of Samford University, a place we love and for which we all care deeply,” Taylor said in his email.
In an email to The Crimson, a university spokesperson provided an additional statement.
“Samford University’s lecture featuring Jon Meacham has been postponed and will be rescheduled. Mr. Meacham, who is a noted historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential biographer, has been invited to our campus to highlight his work in analyzing the current state of civility and discourse in our country. We look forward to hosting him at a later date,” the statement read.
Earlier this month, a Samford student launched a Change.org petition to remove Meacham as a speaker during inauguration week. The petition circulated on campus and beyond, gaining 624 signatures by the time of the Student Government Association Senate meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 26. As of Friday afternoon, the petition had over 1,000 signatures.
During the Tuesday night SGA meeting, the Campus Services Committee referenced the online petition and introduced a resolution to remove Meacham as a speaker at an event planned ahead of the Nov. 4 Presidential Inauguration. The resolution stated that “the student body of Samford University petitions that the speaker at the presidential inauguration be a speaker that does not reject Biblical principles.”
Committee Chair Alan Crisologo stated that the issue was brought to the committee’s attention the previous day. While presenting the resolution to the SGA Senate, Crisologo said Meacham spoke at a Planned Parenthood meeting in Texas on Oct. 6 of this year. A review of the Planned Parenthood of South Texas’ website lists Meacham as its planned speaker during an Oct. 6 luncheon.
The SGA resolution was expedited and passed in the Senate that night.
According to the Inauguration Ceremony page on the Samford University website, which has since removed any mention of Meacham’s event, he was scheduled to speak on Wednesday, Nov. 3 in the Wright Center. According to Samford’s Director of Communications Holly Gainer, the speech Meacham planned to give was called “The Soul of America” and is based on his bestselling book, “The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels.”
“The lecture was about basically looking at historical civil discourse and examining historical events in the past to kind of comparing it to where we are today. I can 100 percent say it had absolutely nothing to do with abortion,” Gainer said.
When asked about whether President Taylor and Meacham know each other, a university spokesperson denied any connection.
“I can confirm that they do not have a personal relationship and have never met,” the university spokesperson said.