What Is The Truth About Obama's Association With Bill Ayres?

A lot of people have been talking nonsense about Obama and Bill Ayres. Most of these have not even taken time to investigate the facts. If you taint Obama with association with Bill Ayres, you will have to taint half of Chicago's Professors, Senators, Mayors and Governors because they all worked on the Annenbergh challenge. Mr Annenberg was a Republican, former ambassador to the UK, by the way. Obama was appointed to the board, not by Ayers but by someone else. So here are the facts:


The three co-authors of Chicago's winning Annenberg Challenge $49.2 million grant proposal were:

William Ayers, associate professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago; co-director of the Small Schools Workshop; co-director of the Chicago Forum for School Change—an affiliate of the Coalition of Essential Schools;[20] chairman of the Alliance for Better Chicago Schools (ABCs) coalition;[21][22] former Chicago assistant deputy mayor for education (1989–1990);[22] brother of John Ayers, executive director (1994–2004) of Leadership for Quality Education (an affiliate of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago) and former associate director (1987–1994) of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago; son of Thomas Ayers, former president (1964–1980), chairman and CEO (1973–1980) of Commonwealth Edison and former vice president (1980) of the Chicago School Board

Anne Hallett, executive director and founder of the Cross-City Campaign for Urban School Reform; former executive director of the Wieboldt Foundation (1986–1993); former executive director of the Citizens Education Center in Seattle (1983–1986); former executive director and founder of the Chicago Panel on School Policy (1982–1983); former chair, founder, and chief lobbyist for Citizens for Fair School Funding in Seattle (1976–1982)[21][23][24][25][26

Warren Chapman, senior program officer for education at the Joyce Foundation; former state coordinator at the Illinois State Board of Education for the Illinois Alliance of Essential Schools—a regional center of the Coalition of Essential Schools (1986–1992)[28][29]

On December 17, 1993, Ayers, Hallet and Chapman met to discuss how to win an Annenberg Challenge grant for Chicago. Hallett and Chapman were already informal pro bono advisors to the national Annenberg Challenge, and over the course of the following year they met repeatedly at Brown University with other Annenberg advisors and worked to ensure that Chicago would be one of the first cities selected to receive a grant.[19]

In Chicago, Ayers, Hallett and Chapman gathered a 73-member Chicago School Reform Collaborative Working Group from organizations involved in school reform to help them draft a proposal, with Hallett's Cross-City Campaign for Urban School Reform donating its headquarters and providing staff support to the Working Group.[19] In June 1994, Ayers and Hallett submitted a draft proposal to Gregorian on behalf of the Working Group.[30]

The presidents of the three largest independent foundations active in Chicago school reform:

Adele Smith Simmons, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (1989–1999); vice chair and senior executive of Chicago Metropolis 2020—a project of the Commercial Club of Chicago (1999– ); senior associate at the Center for International Studies at the University of Chicago (1999–2005); former president of Hampshire College (1977–1989); former assistant professor of East African history at Princeton University (1972–1977) and Tufts University (1969–1972); former dean of students at Princeton University (1972–1977); former dean of Jackson College for Women of Tufts University (1970–1972); Ph.D. 1969, University of Oxford; B.A. 1963, Radcliffe College[31]

Deborah Leff, president of the Joyce Foundation (1992–1999); president and CEO of America's Second Harvest (1999–2001); director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library (2001–2006); president of Public Welfare Foundation (2006– ); former senior producer at ABC News (1983–1989); former producer at WLS-TV ABC 7 News in Chicago (1981–1983); former director of public affairs at the Federal Trade Commission (1980–1981); former civil rights attorney at the US. Department of Justice (1977–1979); J.D. 1977, University of Chicago Law School; A.B. 1973, Princeton University[32]

Patricia Albjerg Graham, president of the Spencer Foundation (1991–2000); professor of the history of education (1977–2006) and former dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (1982–1991); former dean of the Radcliffe Institute (1974–1977) and vice president of Radcliffe College (1976–1977); former assistant professor (1965–1968), associate professor (1968–1972), professor (1972–1974) of the history of education at Barnard College and Teachers College, Columbia University; former assistant professor of the history of education at Indiana University (1964–1966); former high school teacher, Norfolk, Viriginia (1955–1956, 1957–1958), New York City (1958–1960); Ph.D. 1964, Columbia University; B.S. 1955, M.S. 1957, Purdue University[33]

On January 23, 1995, in a ceremony attended by Mayor Daley, Governor Edgar, and other dignitaries at Washington Irving Elementary School (where the 1988 School Reform Act had been signed), Walter Annenberg's daughter, Wallis Annenberg, presented a symbolic $49.2 million check from the Annenberg Foundation to 11-year-old Amanda Morado, who accepted it on behalf of the nearly 410,000 Chicago public school children.[11]

These programs provided by existing groups working with networks of schools became models for the Chicago Annenberg Challenge's grants which were to go to external partners—such as the Coalition of Essential Schools or the Algebra Project[36]—working with networks of 5 to 10 schools, as opposed to going to system-wide initiatives or going directly to individual schools.[19][35] The external partner could be anything from a school reform group to a teachers union to a community organization to a university to a local business.[35]

An 8-member Board of Directors made up of representatives of organizations that had no vested interest in Annenberg money was recruited to approve grants, hire an executive director and project staff, and determine which funds could count towards the required $98.4 million match.[19][35]

The Board of Directors was handpicked by Adele Smith Simmons, president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, who was asked by Gregorian to "work with foundation leadership to create a board that would be diverse, including people from the community, business interests and civic leaders, and include no more than nine people."[19][35]

At a meeting with Simmons and Patricia Albjerg Graham, Deborah Leff suggested that Barack Obama would make a good board chairman.[37] After meeting and being impressed by Obama, Graham told Obama that she wanted him to be chairman of the Board of Directors.[37] Obama said that he would agree to serve as chairman if Graham would be vice chairman, to which Graham agreed

Board of Directors

The founding Board of Directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge as announced in 1995 were:[39]

Patricia Albjerg Graham

Barack Obama, civil rights attorney at Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland; lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School; member of the board of directors of the Joyce Foundation and the Woods Fund of Chicago; winner, Crain's Chicago Business 40 Under 40 award, 1993; former president of the Harvard Law Review (1990–1991); former executive director of the Developing Communities Project (June 1985–May 1988)[25][40][41][42]

Stanley O. Ikenberry, president of the University of Illinois (1979–1995); member of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago (1983–1995); former professor of education (1965–1971) and senior vice president (1971–1979) of Pennsylvania State University

Arnold R. Weber, president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago (1995–1999); member of the board of directors of the Arie and Ida Crown Memorial and the Tribune Company; former president of Northwestern University (1985–1994) and the University of Colorado (1980–1985); professor of labor economics and friend and colleague of George P. Shultz at MIT, the University of Chicago, and in the Nixon administration[43]

Ray Romero, vice president and general counsel of Ameritech; Chicago School Finance Authority board member (appointed in 1992 by Governor Jim Edgar); candidate in the 1996 Democratic primary for the 5th Congressional District of Illinois; winner, Crain's Chicago Business 40 Under 40 award, 1991; former Illinois Commerce Commission commissioner (appointed in 1985 by Governor Jim Thompson); former civil rights attorney as Midwest regional director of MALDEF where he was lead counsel for Hispanic plaintiffs in the 1985 Chicago ward remap[42][44]

Wanda White, executive director of the Community Workshop on Economic Development; former policy director of the Women's Self-Employment Project; former deputy commissioner of economic development under Chicago Mayors Washington, Sawyer and Daley

Elected to the board by the founding board soon after the creation of the first board were:

Susan Crown, president of the Arie and Ida Crown Memorial; vice president of Henry Crown & Company; daughter of Lester Crown[45]

Handy Lindsey, Jr., executive director (1988–1997) then president (1997–2003) of the Field Foundation of Illinois; former associate director of the Chicago Community Trust (1986–1988)

The final Board of Directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge in 2001 were:

Patricia Albjerg Graham

Barack Obama

Edward Bottum, managing director of Chase Franklin Corp.; former president and vice chairman of Continental Illinois Bank[47]

Connie Evans, founder and president of the Women's Self-Employment Project

Susan Blankenbaker Noyes, former labor attorney at Sidley & Austin; daughter of Republican former Indiana state

Senator Virginia Murphy Blankenbaker; goddaughter of Patricia Albjerg Graham[48]

Scott C. Smith, president, CEO and publisher of the Chicago Tribune; former president, CEO and publisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale; former chairman of the South Florida Annenberg Challenge

Nancy Searle, consultant to the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust

Victoria Chou, dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago

John W. McCarter, Jr., president and CEO of the Field Museum

Jim Reynolds, Jr., co-founder, chairman and CEO of Loop Capital Services

5 answers

I hope Obama answered all your questions yesterday regarding Bill Ayres


(1.) Politicians always dissociate themselves from risky people. This is not a question of lying, it's a question of being smart. Whatever he says about his relationship with Ayres, they will make it into another thing anyway.

(2.) Why should there be any ideological alignment between the two? They are in overlapping circles. If Republicans want to be honest about the objectives of the educational reform, they should go and ask all the Republicans who participated in it, including the Annenbergs who approved the grant. Infact, it wasn't even Ayres who appointed Obama to the board, it was another lady, as my copy and paste shows.

This is complete hogwash.


Why the hullabaloo about Ayers now?

What has the God-awful racist Republicans said about the White terrorists that lynched many blacks, bombed black churches, killed black children, stoned black children and Molested black women around the same time Ayers was active?

Many of those crimes are still under investigation whereas Ayers has been tried and acquitted!

If McCain and the perpetual dumbo Sarah Palin care so much about domestic terrorism in the 1960s why have they not addressed the real terrorists of that era - those that masterminded the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Now they're coming forward to cry against 1960s domestic terrorism while their kind were cheering the clan as they wrecked havoc on the psyche of our African American brothers and sisters!

McCain is a disgrace!



You are always skimming the surface and taking everything at its face value to express your viewpoint. Ayers qualification and all these facts are not why Obama's association is questioned. The reason is simple - nobody says Obama has no right to associate with who he pleases, instead there is contention on why he lied about the quality or depth of such association.

Were there partnering, were there ideological alignments between the two and if there is what is it about? If Obama sits and discuss with Ayers on how to improve educational curriculum, then what is the substance of the curriculum and knowing Ayers, what are the objectives of the educational reform?

If a man breaks into your house and violates your wife and then 40yrs later says that he wished he had done more than just molest her but the guy running for Governor in your state had associated with this dude on certain social issues wouldn't you want to know the extent of such association before you cast vote for the governor?


McCain is just wasting his time talking about a scary terrorist named Bill Ayers. That line of attack has blown up in McCain's face!

Your answer
Add image

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.