Al Gore – the son – visited MTSU for a panel discussion Monday about Al Gore Sr. and a new book about the elder statesman’s political legacy.
Gore Sr. was an alumnus of Middle Tennessee State University. He is the subject of a book, “Albert Gore, Sr.: A Political Life” by Dr. Anthony J. Badger.
The panel discussion at MTSU’s Tucker Theatre included the former vice president, Badger, and Dr. Mary Evins and professor Kent Syler of MTSU. Dr. Louis M. Kyriakoudes, director of the Albert Gore Research Center at MTSU, introduced the panel.
MTSU President Dr. Sidney A. McPhee said of Gore Sr., “It’s fitting today that we gather here under the banner of the Albert Gore Research Center to talk about Albert Gore Sr. who helped establish America’s interstate highway system and created the blueprint for Medicare and whose conscience convinced him to break with conventional wisdom in politics.”
Badger highlighted Gore Sr.’s legacy of advancing civil rights and opposing the Vietnam War and for having a love-hate relationship with fellow Southern Democrat President and former Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson.
Badger said Gore Sr.’s political career “spanned the creation of the modern South.” The politician represented a “new generation of Southerners” that President Franklin D. Roosevelt hoped would embrace the New Deal economic plan to pull the country out of the Great Depression.
Gore Jr. said his father was responsible for the creation of the interstate highway system and for making Middle Tennessee a focal point for the interstate, thus setting the stage for the state’s appeal to auto manufacturers and other industries.
“I was so proud of his accomplishment with the interstate,” Gore Jr. said.
Gore Jr. was asked to give advice to the college generation when it comes to politics. He called on them to register to vote next year, and he sounded the alarm on the environment.
“We have never faced a crisis like the environmental crisis,” he said of the greenhouse effect.
Evins asked Gore Jr. about his mother Pauline’s involvement in his father’s political life. Gore said that an early memory of his was being “dumbstruck” that within his mother’s conscious lifetime that she and other women did not have the right to vote, until the passage of the 19th Amendment.